Here is a review of my book Hunger for Connection from The ED Journal
Hunger for Connection: Finding Meaning in Eating Disorders by Alitta Kullman, Ph.D Why can’t overeaters and bulimics ever get satisfied by eating? Why is enough never enough? Dr. Kullman describes Megan who “never learned to use words to speak of her experience; she could only eat.” The author coins the term “perseverant personality” to illustrate how these patients have “a circular and solitary mode of being, thinking, and relating that is organized around a sustained physical and emotional reliance on the feeding as a means of thought processing and emotional regulation. Emotional experiences that overwhelm their minds persistently trigger food thoughts, cravings, urges to starve or purge, faulty body images rather than the thought-based solutions they really need to help soothe and regulate their emotional states.” The cause of this perseverant personality, Kull explains, lies in the hurts, disappointments, shame, neglect, and trauma in infancy and early life in which children learn that comfort from parents is not dependable, and instead they turn to food as a substitute for human warmth, nurturing, and solace. These patterns of overeating can continue into adult life even though food is ultimately disappointing by never truly satisfying the hunger for emotional connection. Healing begins with the therapist’s empathic attunement which slowly helps repair the patient’s overeating and bulimia by getting to the root of the tensions and anxiety that have fueled the eating disorder. The therapist provides the patient with tools to think through and “digest” his/her conflicts and confusion. When the patient is helped to break down overwhelming and previously unnamed feelings into “bite-size” pieces that are tolerable while learning to reflect on her thoughts and feelings, food and emotional eating loses its power and control. The therapist helps her translate her inner world into the language of emotions by bearing witness to her struggle, helping her verbalize her thoughts, and learning to care for her needs in more direct ways. Dr. Kullman integrates psychoanalytic theory, psychoneurobiological research, and her own clinical experience for an extremely rich and insightful book.