Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To quickly go to the Table of Volumes from any article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To quickly go to the Table of Volumes from any article, click on the banner for the journal at the top of the article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Brady, M.T. (2011). Invisibility and insubstantiality in an anorexic adolescent: phenomenology and dynamics. J. Child Psychother., 37(1):3-15.

(2011). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 37(1):3-15


Invisibility and insubstantiality in an anorexic adolescent: phenomenology and dynamics

Mary T. Brady

The author describes a sub-group of anorexic patients who present themselves clinically as ‘invisible’ and ‘insubstantial’. The concept of ‘invisibility’ is understood in terms of primitive object relations. The underpinning of this dynamic is a lack of separation and differentiation from mother and a consequent effort to live inside her skin. The author relies on Rosenfeld's description (On the psychopathology of narcissism: a clinical approach', in Psychotic States: A Psychoanalytic Approach, New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1964) of narcissistic object relations and related defences against recognition of separateness between self and object. Differentiation and the development of a sense of a visible self require a growing capacity to bear pain and conflict. The author offers an extended case example in order to elucidate the factors that contributed to an adolescent girl's experience of herself as invisible, and only really of any substance when merged with another. Paradoxically, the anorexia can also serve to make a patient's problems truly visible for the first time. The anorexia both reflects the sense of insubstantiality and may represent an emerging opportunity for experiences that are one's own to be considered.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.