April 18, 2012 Lori Cheeseman National University Professor Rogers
Eating Disorder By using feminist therapy, the therapist can help the female “Bulimia Nervosa” (Morrison, 2006, p. 391) client understand the cultural etiology of her disorder (Carolan, Bak, Hoppe-Rooney, & Burns-Jager, 2010). In other words, it would be therapeutic for the female client to understand and relate her Bulimia Nervosa to society’s oppressive, macro structural constraints (Griswold, 2008). By combining feminist therapy with narrative therapy, the therapist can aid the female client in “externalizing” (Ramey, Tarulli, Frijters, & Fisher, 2009, p. 263) the etiology of her “disorder” (Basow, Foran, & Bookwala, 2007, p. 398). Externalizing the etiology of the eating disorder is imperative for healing. According to feminists Chernin and Orbach (as cited in Basow, 2008), the etiology of Bulimia Nervosa is not from individual pathology (p. 290). Culture is the etiology of Bulimia Nervosa (Basow, 2008, p. 290). The cultural idea is that “. . . being thin ‘enough’ will enhance one’s life and make one happy” (Basow, 2008, p. 290). Part of learning to externalize involves “consciousness-raising” about “systemic oppressions” (Burstow, 1992, p. xvi). According to Wycoff (as cited in Burstow, 1992), Bulimia Nervosa is a “. . . problem in living [that is] rooted in systemic oppressions—classism, sexism, and racism” and “consciousness-raising leads to action” (p. xvi). According to Katzman and Lee (as cited in Russell-Mayhew et al., 2008), “Focusing on weight preoccupation as a etiologic variable risks being overly ethnocentric and misses the universal power of food refusal as an attempt to free oneself from the control of others” (p. 132). Consciousness-raising is achieved through language. Humans construct reality through language “. . . relationships, and culture. . .” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 342). According to Watzlawick (as cited in Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008), “[b]ecause each of us invents our own reality, we also have the option of creating it differently” (p. 346). Through language the human female internalizes socialized ways of being (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008). “Language is the vehicle for forming new [realities]” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 347). Language is the core of narrative therapy and is rooted in “poststructuralism and deconstructionism” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008 p. 367). Deconstructionism is a “. . . disassembling and examining taken-for-granted assumptions. . .” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 368). Narrative therapists use the idea of deconstructionism to enlighten the female “. . . that the dominance of one meaning or one set of assumptions is an illusion, and that it is possible to apply a multitude of meanings or assumptions in understanding the same event or experience” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 368). Narrative therapists help the female client to “. . . ‘externalize’ a restraining problem—in effect, by deconstructing the problem as an internal deficiency or pathological condition in the individual and redefining it an objectified external and unwelcome narrative with a will of its own to dominate [her life]” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 372). Poststructuralism rejects the idea of “. . . artificially imposed ‘thin’ descriptions (e.g., superficial, insubstantial descriptors of internal [human] states such as normal/abnormal or functional/dysfunctional)” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 367). “Thin” (Palmer, 2007, p. 29) descriptions lead to superficially labeling a healthy female “body” (Ragan, 2011, p. 222) as fat. As the female internalizes the fat label, her story becomes “problem-saturated” (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008, p. 368). The female begins to believe she is a bad person (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2008). The goal of narrative therapy is to change her story. She is not a bad person.