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Rhode, M. (1979). One Life between Two People: Some Themes from the Analysis of a Nine-to-Fifteen-Year-Old Anorexic Girl. J. Child Psychother., 5(1):57-68.

(1979). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 5(1):57-68

One Life between Two People: Some Themes from the Analysis of a Nine-to-Fifteen-Year-Old Anorexic Girl

Maria Rhode

Laura, the anorexic girl I wish to discuss in this paper, came to analysis just before her ninth birthday. After three and a half years, we cut down to twice weekly treatment while I was expecting a baby, then resumed once weekly after a break of nearly a year. When Laura stopped treatment some months ago, on her fifteenth birthday, she had been coming to see me for just over six years.

In the two years before I qualified, I was supervised by Mrs. Martha Harris, whom I wish to thank for her help. I wish also to express my thanks to Dr. Donald Meltzer for some discussions since then, and to Dr. H.S. Klein.

It is difficult to describe Laura's material without giving a very wrong idea of the atmosphere in her sessions. In the early years particularly, they were filled with incessant activity and yet they seemed frozen: a whole week's material fitted easily into a single supervision. At the same time, I felt that she would take a transfer very badly, as though my continuous experience of her were somehow vitally important. The content of her material fitted with this feeling, in the sense that themes concerning life and death were prominent. Her manner, however, was that of a cheerful, chatty, verbally precocious nine-year-old: I felt I had met with the perfect embodiment of the concept of false self. She was at that time very undersized for her age, and terribly thin. Her brown hair was scraped back into a pony-tail: one could see through her skin to the veins on her forehead.

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