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Smith, F. (2004). The Generosity of Acceptance: Volume 1, Exploring Feeding Difficulties in Children; Volume 2, Exploring Eating Disorders in Adolescents edited by Gianna Williams, Paul Williams, Jane Desmarais and Kent Ravenscroft (Karnac, London, 2004). Psychoanal. Psychother., 18(4):447-450.
The Generosity of Acceptance: Volume 1, Exploring Feeding Difficulties in Children; Volume 2, Exploring Eating Disorders in Adolescents edited by Gianna Williams, Paul Williams, Jane Desmarais and Kent Ravenscroft (Karnac, London, 2004)
Review by: Flo Smith
The Generosity of Acceptance is a very welcome and much needed contribution to the body of widely available literature on eating disorders. In general, sadly, this tends to concentrate on managing and measuring behaviour change in the sufferer, rather than understanding and relieving the roots of the distress underlying disturbed relationships to food and feeding. In these two volumes, Gianna Williams and her co-editors have compiled an impressive collection of psychoanalytic observational and clinical papers that illuminate the unconscious pathological processes contributing to feeding difficulties and eating disorders. The chapters focus on analytic work with children and adolescents. There current issues and themes, however, will be easily recognizable and relevant to professionals working with adult patients with similar presentations.
It is pertinent that a number of contributors to this collection are past and present members of the Eating Disorders Workshop set up at the Tavistock Clinic by Gianna Williams in 1987. The workshop continues, and is now a central component of the Postgraduate Diploma MA in Working with People with Eating Disorders (Tavistock Clinic & University of East London), on which Gianna Williams and Marilyn Lawrence are co-organizing tutors. The papers included here are a testament to the difficult and challenging work fostered and encouraged in the containing atmosphere of the workshop. Other contributors include clinicians in Italy who have completed Tavistock-model training and have links with the workshop.
The papers in these volumes contain coherent theoretical discussion alongside sensitive exposition of analytic observations and therapy. The casework and observations will no doubt have an immediate appeal for therapists familiar with the work of Klein and Bion. For those less familiar but keen to increase their understanding, the Editors’ introduction, printed in both volumes, is a generous and thorough guide, explaining concepts, filling in and referencing the theoretical background, and linking recurring issues and themes in the cases. Psychoanalytic concepts, such as fusion and projective identification, introjection and projection, the paternal function, and ego-destructive superego are beautifully explored in the context of the transference relationships described.
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