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Davies, M. (2004). Need, Greed and Envy in Anorexia Nervosa and the Challenge they Present. Psychoanal. Psychother., 18:432-444.

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(2004). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 18(4):432-444

Need, Greed and Envy in Anorexia Nervosa and the Challenge they Present

Martin Davies

For as long as man has been on this earth, envy and greed have performed a duet of destruction. Indeed, these terrifyingly complimentary emotions have been at the root of the worlds’ great conflicts and can be seen featuring as a point of origin in what are euphemistically referred to as ‘crimes of passion’. In biblical accounts, both were sighted amongst the seven deadly sins. An impressively awesome curriculum vitae indeed.

In this paper I should like to explore the role of envy and greed in the formation of anorexia nervosa, where it would appear that the destructive nature of this powerful duo have been turned inwards against the body itself. Analytical theorists make much of the difficulties evoked by the Oedipal situation. These particular theories are explored at length and applied to anorexia nervosa. In attempting to understand how this painful stage of development impacts upon this client group, the difficulties posed and the coping strategies employed to alleviate them are both examined.

A further avenue discussed is the particular challenge anorexia nervosa sufferers pose to those of us who would seek to engage them in therapy. Anorectic difficulties in engaging and accepting therapy are explored and understanding is sought as to how we might begin to make progress with this most intractable of illnesses. I would like to illustrate these issues by utilizing my experiences of working clinically with a client suffering from an enduring eating disorder.

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