Lost for Words:
The Psychoanalysis of Anorexia and Bulimia
Up to eighty per cent of women suffer from Sub-Clinical Eating Disorder. Twenty per
cent will have anorexia or bulimia at some time in their lives. This is the first
comprehensive overview of the psychoanalytic and psychodynamic literature on eating
disorders Anorexics and bulimic are lost for words. Most are women. They feel they have no
way to communicate effectively. They have not found the words to express and name the
turmoil of their experience to themselves or others. This leaves them in a world where
neither food not words can provide nourishment and sustenance. This book explores the
nature of anorexia and bulimia, paying particular attention to the issues of mortality and
the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. It stresses the importance for
technique of understanding the violent and agonising nature of these individuals' inner
worlds. The author has worked with over 180 women with eating disorders.
The history of theories and treatments of eating disorders is thoroughly canvassed, and
the book provides the most comprehensive review of the psychoanalytic literature in print.
It draws, in particular, on the Kleinian tradition and the work of Winnicott.
Em Farrell is a UKCP registered psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in
London. She lectures and is a tutor at Regent's College School of Psychotherapy and
Counselling and has been a member of the Eating Disorders Workshop at the Tavistock
Clinic. She is Co-Director of the Free Associations Education Programme.
Some comments on Lost for Words
'This fine book explores in both a sophisticated and accessible way the inner
experience of patients with eating disorders. The author is to be congratulated for her
nuanced appreciation of the self-alienation that is so common in these patients and the
challenges that this presents in the treatment setting. The book details the maturation of
the psychoanalytic perspective on these conditions as well as the variety of current
points of view. The author's own perspective is Kleinian, an orientation that she
represents with thoughtfulness and convincing clinical immediacy.
'Em Farrell's book is a valuable addition to our evolving literature and is one that is
deserving of admiration and broad readership. I recommend it highly.'
- Harvey J. Schwartz, M.D., psychoanalyst, editor of Bulimia: Psychoanalytic
Treatment and Theory
'What an excellent piece of work it is... It puts forward a persuasive argument about
the meaning of eating disorders and a convincing case for how such problems should be
understood in the therapy... I feel I would have benefited from reading it some years
- Paul Gordon, psychotherapist, Open Door - Hornsey Young People's Consultation
'With creativity and clarity, Em Farrell has "found the words" to convey
vividly some of the inherent contradictions in the emotional problems surrounding eating
and not eating. This book is a "must" for those people who wish to reach a more
sensitive understanding of difficulties surrounding food, body image and therapy with
anorexic and bulimic people'
- Jeanne Magagna, Head of Psychotherapy Services, Great Ormond Street Hospital (eating
You can order this book from Process
LOST FOR WORDS ISBN 1-899209-02-5 Pp. 120
PRICE: L9.95 (British pounds sterling plus L1.50 postage
Tel 0171 609 0507 Fax 0171 609 4837 email email@example.com
INTRODUCTIONS AND DEFINITIONS
THE BODY AND BODY PRODUCTS AS TRANSITIONAL OBJECTS AND
IMPLICATIONS FOR TECHNIQUE