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EDCAS Conference: The Entropic Body: Primitive Anxieties and Secondary Skin Formation in Anorexia Nervosa

Date: Oct 4, 2016 10:00 am


PRESENTER: Tom Wooldridge, Psy.D.

DISCUSSANT: Sarah Schoen, Ph.D.


This presentation develops a metapsychological view of anorexia nervosa, including its symptomatic presentation but also its etiology, mode of mental functioning, and object relations. Without the ability to contain anxieties about disintegration and falling apart, patients with anorexia must find ways to hold themselves together. The fear of becoming fat expressed by these patients is a means of expressing this fear of disintegration and, furthermore, the almost addictive experience of emaciation provides a secondary-skin formation that holds the personality together. Elaborating this idea, I develop the notion of the entropic body, a particular version of the false body employed by patients with anorexia nervosa. This body-state entails the dissociation of the libidinal body, eschewing desire and dependence in favor of omnipotently controlled safety and protection.


Bio: Tom Wooldridge, PsyD is an assistant professor at Golden Gate University, where he chairs the Psychology Department. He publishes widely in both empirical and psychoanalytic journals. His first book, Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males, presents an innovative new framework for thinking about a frequently overlooked population. Tom is also an Executive Director at the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders and a candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.



Sarah Schoen, Ph.D. is a Supervising Analyst and teaching faculty for psychoanalytic candidates at the William Alanson White Institute, as well as supervisor, faculty & Steering Committee member of White’s Eating Disorders Compulsions and Addictions Program.  She is an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and an invited speaker at Columbia Psychoanalytic University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.



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