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Foxe, G. (1995). Anorexia as Characterological Metaphor: “… feeling sad will break my heart”. Mod. Psychoanal., 20(2):131-151.

(1995). Modern Psychoanalysis, 20(2):131-151

Anorexia as Characterological Metaphor: “… feeling sad will break my heart”

Gladys Foxe, M.A., C.S.W.

Traditionally, the diagnosis of “anorectic” has been applied only to patients who manifest a total or partial cessation of eating. In this paper, the author proposes a new diagnosis: anorexia as a character disorder that can be observed even in patients who eat normally. The notion of an “anorectic personality” is applied to young women who refuse emotional nourishment, actively depriving themselves of pleasure and satisfaction in love and work. The author approaches this diagnosis via two patients, one of whom is presented in case study. The author concludes by exploring treatment issues for anorectic personalities, suggesting that analyst must respect these patient's need for distance while modeling their own comfort with deep emotion, affective speech, and authentic relatedness.

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