Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 9 Issue 6 (November/December 1999), Pages 397-482

Anorexic space (pages 435-448)


This paper considers the female anorexic's use of space by reviewing her spatial practice as demonstrated in her clinical presentation upon starting therapy. Two categories of concept about space underpin the paper: the notion that space is produced as conceived in a Marxist perspective by Lefebvre, and psychoanalytic concepts of mental space derived from the work of Bick (1968), Meltzer (1975) and Rey (1994). Beginning psychotherapy with an anorexic patient shows how particular spatial phantasies (phantasy is here construed as an unconscious configuration of the mind which affects how we think, feel and act (see Isaacs, 1943) as opposed to a conscious fantasy such as a daydream) and practises structure the intersubjective relationship between therapist and patient and between patient and aspects of her own experience. In this paper anorexia is considered as a defence against consuming desire for the object (the word ‘object’ is used to represent the earliest relationship the infant has to someone else whom he or she has yet to recognize as a whole autonomous person in their own right. Object is thus used as a category word and not in a denigratory sense) (Sohn, 1985). Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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