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We are delighted to be able to present this Special Issue of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy devoted to work with patients with eating disorders.
Those of you who have a special interest in this area will, we hope, be pleased with the wide range of papers and approaches, looking at patients across the age spectrum and presenting with very different symptoms. Readers less familiar with this area may find themselves surprised, both with the seriousness of the patients' illnesses and with the lengthy in-patient stays that are often necessary. It is tempting to think that the days of the long-stay mental hospital are over. In fact, the eating disorder patients, the anorexics in particular, have become the chronic mental patients of the present era. A good number of the specialist units providing care for these NHS patients are commercially-owned centres. Many provide very high standards of treatment.
Five out of the six papers in this issue came to be written in connection with the MA course, Working with People with Eating Disorders, which is run at the Tavistock Clinic. It is a course for staff working in specialist eating disorder units and seeks to support them in the near-impossible work that they undertake. We four Editors make up the staff group on that course.
A psychoanalytic perspective offers no miracle solutions, as these papers make clear. However, we hope you will agree that by being able to think more clearly, by being able to use their own feelings and responses to guide them, these staff are making a commendable contribution which may eventually result in the patients being able to make some progress. Above all, we hope that by helping the staff to find the space to think, we can help them to avoid some of the worst pitfalls which so commonly occur in working with these very difficult patients.
Marilyn Lawrence, Psychoanalyst
Roberta Modadori, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
Ann Simpson, Adult Psychotherapist
Gianna Williams, Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychotherapist, Founder of the Eating Disorders Workshop, Adolescent Department, Tavistock Clinic.
The next issue of the journal, 19:1, will be edited by Maureen Marks who has now taken over Editor.
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