Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Marcia Martin, PhD

Second Advisor

Robin Hornstein, PhD

Abstract

ABSTRACT

A TWO-PAPER EXAMINATION OF SECURE BODY ATTACHMENT IN THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF EATING DISORDERS

Author: Suzanne B. Daly, LCSW

Supervisor: Marcia L. Martin, PhD

These two papers seek to build the argument that the particular physical presence of the body is a significant aspect of the attachment relationship between two people, and, for the purposes of this theoretical-conceptual dissertation, most notably between two females. Since body dissatisfaction is increasingly normative for women today, maintaining a secure attachment to one’s body occurs against the grain of cultural practices that constrict, exploit, and separate women from their bodies/bodily needs. This makes it particularly challenging for women to feel good enough in their own skin/body, let alone serve as a good enough model for someone else. Thus, mothers and female clinicians alike need to have a blueprint on which to rely when they encounter a shared body experience with their female children/clients. The first paper will argue that without a model of secure attachment to the body, females are more likely to develop an attachment to cultural ideals as an extension of primary relationships and at the expense of their own bodies, moving them from exposure to action in the form of eating disorders. The second paper will expand on paper one by illustrating how the therapeutic relationship, through its responsiveness and consistency, can invite a type of reenactment of the proximity-seeking behavior that results in the creation of a "secure base," which can be used by the client to experience a sense of secure attachment and begin to shift the nature of her attachment to her own body.

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