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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Understanding Disordered Eating Podcast

Sex and Eating Disorders

Host: Rachelle Heinemann, LMHC, CEDS
Location: Online Podcast

Food, desire, intuition, and… sex.

We often get stuck in the food and body image loop when discussing eating disorders. But let’s be real, it’s so much more than that! Our relationship with food and our bodies spills over into every aspect of our lives, especially anything that connects with our desires, including our sexual desires and intimacy.

Have you ever wondered how we got here? Why are we so disconnected or even afraid of our desires? The roots often trace back to our childhoods and the environment we grow up in. Think about it: as kids, many of us focus on meeting the needs of our caregivers. As we grow older, societal pressures, like the ideal body image portrayed on social media, start shaping our desires and identities.

Remember those awkward moments when someone asks, “What do you want?” and you’re like, “Uhh, I don’t know, what do YOU want?” We’ve all been there! But why is it so hard to tune into our own desires and needs?

It’s fascinating to explore how the fear of wanting too much can become a significant barrier to recovery. Imagine starting with the fear of craving too much chocolate and ending up grappling with the terror of wanting too much love or fearing you’ll become a burden.

In our teens and twenties, it’s a time to explore, try on different identities, and figure out who we truly are. But for some, the fear of exploring and knowing what they want leads them to latch onto the identity of an eating disorder. Nowadays, with the rise of social media, the pressure to conform and the fear of not fitting in has escalated dramatically.

This week, I am welcoming back Dr. Judith Brisman. She joined me back in episode 73 for a discussion on food and desire. Now she’s back to talk about how eating disorders have an impact on our sexual desires.

Dr. Judith Brisman was the Founding Director of the Eating Disorder Resource Center for over 35 years. She is co-author of  Surviving an Eating Disorder: Strategies for Family and Friends  (Now in its fourth edition and available at Harper Collins or on Amazon!). She is an associate editor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and is on the editorial board of the journal Eating Disorders. She is a member of the teaching faculty at the William Alanson White Institute and she maintains a private practice in New York City. Dr. Brisman is known internationally as among the first in her field to develop a treatment program for bulimic patients. She has published and lectured extensively regarding the interpersonal treatment of eating disorders.

In this episode, we’re talking about:

  • The misconception of focusing solely on food and body image in eating disorders.

  • The relationship between desire, eating disorders, and societal expectations.

  • The influence of early experiences and relationships on understanding needs.

  • The societal shift towards screens affecting children’s development.

  • Challenges in understanding needs in one’s 20s in the digital age.

  • Listening to bodily cues and recognizing thoughts.

  • The role of parents, caregivers, and therapists in understanding needs without judgment.

  • The potential benefits of tools like microdosing with mushrooms. (Random, I know but fascinating.)

  • Nutritionists helping patients understand desires through food.

  • Open discussions about sex, pleasure, and desire.

  • Societal taboos impacting young people’s exploration of sexuality.

  • Therapists discussing sex without judgment.

  • The parallel between eating disorders and desires.

  • Society’s views on sex and sexual freedom.

  • Understanding wanting in relationships and therapy.

  • The push-pull dynamic of wanting in therapy.

  • Dangers of disassociating from wanting.

  • Focusing on true needs rather than pleasing others.

  • Interpersonal dynamics in relationships affecting sexuality.

  • Addressing transgenerational transmission of anxiety.

  • Curiosity about feelings and needs to break anxiety cycles.

  • A practical approach to identifying and asserting wants and needs.

  • Validating feelings and desires in various aspects of life.

Listen to this podcast