compulsive eating

Compulsive Eating Metaphor Therapy

Therapy to End Compulsive Eating

Can't say 'No' to Food

This client reported that she had put on weight and was unable to stop eating when food was around. She would attend company functions and obsess about the food. While the others were talking she could think of nothing else  She would  stand by the buffet compulsively eating. Sometimes she even found herself sneaking into the preparation room when no one was looking and taking items. She was quite unable to explain this behavior. The compulsive eating had only started to be a problem a few years ago.

She had been brought up in a large competitive family where although there was enough to eat, you had to get in early and treats were few. Her mother's family had been a victim of Nazi oppression and both grandparents had in fact starved to death at home, a fact that her mother never tired of telling the children.

This page is a transcript of the session to deal with her compulsive eating.

METAPHOR THERAPY: COMPULSIVE EATING

THERAPIST/CLIENTCOMMENTS
I want to talk to you about these feelings that you get.... about food.... I want you to think about the compulsion you have to eat certain things... about the need you feel to go
and take something .... about this feeling you have that this opportunity
might not come again... I would like you to really feel that inside your
body... I want you to think about that... the whole thing... not any part of
it... but the whole thing... It's all part of the same thing....
I want you just to be quiet and calm...
just allow your mind to open up...
Into light trance
and become aware of where in your body
that feeling resides... it's just that... that whole thing.... just allow
yourself to take as much time as you need... and you might hear words and
phrases and stuff going through your mind... that's not important.... just
allow the chatter to die away... and focus inwardly... on becoming aware...
getting in touch with that feeling... and become aware of where it is.. and
the extent of it... and when you have done that... you can just say 'yes'.
Seeking a somatic response
I think I have it.
That's good.
Now focus gently on that... and just
thank your mind for letting you experience it... and just spread out some
gratitude to that ...
Allay unconscious reservations
and wait for a word... or a phrase... or
a picture to appear.... that sums up... that has the essence of that
feeling... and don't try to force it or think about... just.. the right thing
will come.... and is a word or a phrase or picture that exactly fits it....
Seeking a 'seed' to start with
It's.... It's like a head... with a
hungry... hungry eyes... and a hungry mouth...
A picture appears
That's good.
So it's like a head... with hungry
eyes... and a hungry mouth....What else about that head?
Elaborating the symbol
It's sort of black... and purple...
It's black and purple... so there's a head with hungry eyes and a hungry mouth and it's black and purple.... and what else about that head?Elaborating
It's scary...and um.... sort of ferocious.
And it's scary and ferocious and it's
black and purple and it's got hungry eyes and hungry mouth... And what else
about that head?
Elaborating
Eyes are looking everywhere... trying to see...
to get ready to grab....
The eyes are looking everywhere...trying
to see.... ready to grab... and what else?
Elaborating
and it's really ugly and I want to keep
it hidden...
It's ugly and you want to keep it
hidden... and what would you like to happen to that head?
Progressing
I would like it to leave.DESIRED OUTCOME
You would like it to leave... What is the
purpose of that head?
Purpose
It's like a scavenger....
It's like a scavenger.... So there's a
head with hungry eyes and a hungry mouth... and it's got eyes looking
everywhere ready to grab... ugly.. and you want to hide it... and you would
like it to leave...
Consolidation
Mmmm
And what would happen if it left?CONSEQUENCES
I'd get missed out.FEAR
You'd get missed out...
I wouldn't get my share....FEAR
So the purpose of this head is a
scavenger...and you would like it to leave... but if it left you would get
missed out and you would not get your share....
Consolidation
I'd be more peaceful... but I would miss
out... and I would be more invisible....
BIND
So you'd be more peaceful... but you
would be more invisible...
Confirmation
And is there a way that this head could
leave... and you wouldn't miss out... and you could get your share?
Progressing
I guess people could see my real face... uhuhPre-Requisite CONDITION
So if people could see your real face...
you would not get missed out... and you would be able to get your share?
Confirmation
Mmmm
And it there a way... what would have to
happen... for that Scavenger Face to go away? To leave?
Progressing
Say if I felt strong enough to just be myself.... be myselfPre-Requisite CONDITION
So if you felt strong enough to just be
yourself... And what would be needed for you to feel strong enough to just be
yourself?
Progressing
I think if... a light switched on inside.Resource
Uhuh.
So if a LIGHT was switched on inside...
you could be strong enough to just be yourself?
Confirmation
Mmm
And you would be more peaceful.. and you
would not miss out? So what is this LIGHT like, that gets switched on inside
yourself?
Elaborating
It's just a light bulb, but it's
warm..... and comfortable.
And a LIGHT BULB... and warm and
comfortable... And if that LIGHT BULB that was warm and comfortable was to
get switched on inside you would be strong enough to be yourself...
Confirming
mmmm
....and the SCAVENGER FACE could go away?Progressing
Yeah.
And is there a switch with this LIGHT
BULB?
Elaborating
Yeah
Uhuh, and what's the switch like?Elaborating
It's one of those old fashioned ones...
those round ones... on a stalk....
So it's an old fashioned switch... one of
the round ones... with a stalk....
Elaborating
And what would have to happen for that
SWITCH to go on?
Progressing
[weeps] I want my husband to do it....Resource
You want your husband to do it...and can
you imagine your husband finding that LIGHT SWITCH?
Progressing
[stops weeping] Yeah.
And if your husband finds that LIGHT
SWITCH.... can he turn it on?
Progressing
Yeah.
And can you imagine him.... reaching out
and turning it on?
Elaborating
Yeah.
And when he turn it on.... what happens
to the SCAVENGER HEAD?
Progressing
It's shrinking it... like a balloon.Symbol changing
It's shrinking it like a balloon..... And
what happens to the SCAVENGER HEAD when it shrinks like a balloon?
Progressing
It's getting really small and wrinkly.
Getting really small and wrinkly...
Disappearing into... into nothing.
Disappearing into nothing... and has it
gone
Progressing
Yeah.
So that SCAVENGER HEAD has gone. It's
left?
Progressing
Yeah.OUTCOME ACHIEVED.
So now the HEAD has left... what happened
to GET MISSED OUT and NOT GET SHARE?
Testing Fears
Well, I could just ask for what I get.
You could just ask for what you get. And
you could just ask for what you need?
Testing
Mmmm
And so, will you be MORE PEACEFUL?Testing Asset
Yeah [relieved]
And would you be INVISIBLE?Testing Fear
No.
So now that the SCAVENGER HEAD has
gone... and you are MORE PEACEFUL.... what happened to the problem about
food?
Testing
I can be with myself.
You can be with yourself.Elaborating
I can just be more united in my
decisions. And what I have got on my teach [?]
Uhuh. And are you strong enough now?Testing Prerequisite
Yes.
And is that LIGHT SWITCH on permanently?Testing Resource
I am not too sure.
How would you know?Elaborating
I don't like the idea that it's a switch,
because that means it can be turned off again.
FEAR
OK, so a switch could be turned off...Consolidating
Maybe I need to destroy the switch... so
the wiring is permanently on.
DESIRED OUTCOME
Yes. And can you destroy the switch?Progressing
Yeah.
And how are you going to destroy the
switch?
Progressing
Just melt it. [Nodding]Resource
And that switch is melting ... and the
wiring is fusing together... in a safe and strong way.... and so that LIGHT
SWITCH is gone and the light is permanently on.
Progressing
Yeah.OUTCOME ACHIEVED
And can you get that light to go
brighter?
Progressing
Yeah.
Can you get it to go really bright?Progressing
... [long pause] [nods]....
And now that that light is on permanently
and it's really bright... How do you feel?
Testing
I feel lighter.Somatic Response
You feel lighter.
And are you strong enough now to just be
yourself?
Testing Prerequisite
Yeah.
And is there anything else about STRONG
ENOUGH? And having no problem with food?
Testing
Ah... that feels good
Feels good.
And just look around inside..... is there
anything else that ... needs to be cleared?
Confirming
I think my stomach has something going
on....
FEAR
Uhuh.... Your stomach has something going on...
And whereabouts in the stomach is that
something going on?
Elaborating
It's right in the middle.
Right in the middle.Elaborating
In the belly button area.
Round the belly button. And what shape is
that something that is going on around the belly button?
Elaborating
It's kind of .... a disc shape.
Disc shape.
And what else about that disc shape?Elaborating
It's grey.
Uhuh... it's a grey disc shape.... and what else...Elaborating
It's kinda...moving.
Moving... moving how?Elaborating
Sort of undulating... outline of it is ... going in and out....
So there's a disc shape, and it's grey
and it's undulating around the edges going in and out... And can you move
that?
Progressing
Yeah, I think I can.
And where can you move it to?Progressing
I just want to throw it away.DESIRED OUTCOME
Can you move it outside your body?Progressing
Mmmm [agrees]
And where is it now?Progressing
It's moved up into my chest a bit.
Uhuh... Can you move it outside your body?Progressing
Just breathing it out.
Ok, so you are breathing it out... that's
good... so its moved up your chest and you are breathing it out.... And is it
out now?
Progressing
....Yeah....
And where is it now?Progressing
It's just spreading out into the room.
It's spreading out into the room.... And
as it spreads out into the room... what happens to it?
Progressing
It's this grey mist.
Grey mist.
And what would you like to have happen to
this grey mist?
Progressing
It's just dissipating.
Just dissipating.
And what happens next?Progressing
I have send the LIGHT down to where it was.Resource
You are sending the LIGHT down to where
it was....And then what?
Progressing
.... [sigh] It feels OK.OUTCOME ACHIEVED
It feels OK.
And feels OK. So the grey mist has
dissipated and that disc has gone and the light is on all the time and the
light is down there... And are you strong enough to be yourself?
Testing Pre-requisite
Yeah [firmly]
And are you strong enough to be yourself
and be MORE PEACEFUL and be VISIBLE....
Testing Asset and Fear
...yeah....
....and get your share and not miss
out....
Testing Fear
I would like you to imagine you are at
work... and there's a big tea being laid on.... a celebration of some sort...
and there is wine... and there are biscuits and sandwiches and cakes and
muffins and buns... and there's all sorts of gooey things... and you go into
the room... and you look at this... and how do you feel?
Testing Problem Situation
Mmmm... happy.
And happy... and do you feel any need to
... take more than your share?
Testing fear
No.
And do you feel that this opportunity
might not come again?
Testing fear
No.
And so ... do you feel in control?Testing fear
Yes.
And just look around inside
yourself....is there anything that... there that needs to be dealt with?
Checking
No, it all feels really good.
And it all feels pretty good.....and you
can see that LIGHT..
Testing Resource
yes.
And its bright and constant... and it's
warm...
Confirmation
...yeah....
.... and comfortable.... and does that
mean that you are warm and comfortable?
Confirmation
Yeah.
Does that mean that you are strong...?Confirmation
yeah...
And peaceful?Confirmation
yeah
And you feel OK about yourself?Confirmation
Yeah
And is there anything else you need?Confirmation
No.
OK, I would like you to go back to that
very first feeling you had... and see if it is still there...
CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
The first one?
The first feeling.
mmm
Has it gone?Checking
Yeah.
Do you get the feeling it's gone for
ever?
Checking
Could be, yeah.
Just check.Checking
Feels like it might come back.FEAR
OK.
So that feels like it might come back....
what does that feeling look like?
Elaborating
It feels like it might come out of my
neck.
Somatic response, not imagery.
Uhuh. It could come out of your neck.... and what else about feeling
that it might come out of your neck?
Elaborating
It's like a really bad ghost.
Uhuh.Elaborating
That can reform.
Uhuh... like a bad ghost that can reform in your neck.Consolidating
And whereabouts in the neck?Elaborating
In the back of my neck.
At the back of the neck.Elaborating
Just feels really tense... anxious...
What else about this ghost? This bad
ghost?
Elaborating
Well, I'm scared of it.FEAR
Scared of it.Elaborating
And I don't want it to notice me. And I
am safe while it is out there... looking at other things...
So there's a bad ghost that is associated
with the back of your neck...it's tense and anxious there... and you are
scared of it... and you don't want it to notice you.... and you are safe
while it is out there looking at other things.... What would you like to have
happen to this bad ghost?
Progressing
Burn up.DESIRED OUTCOME
Burn up. So you would like this ghost to
burn up.
Mmm.
Can the ghost burn up?Progressing
Mmm.
And so how would that ghost get burned
up?
Progressing
It's a nice warm fire... would burn it up.Resource appears
A nice warm fire would burn it up.....
and so does that nice warm fire burn it up?
Progressing
It's working on it.
It's working on it.Progressing
.... [long silence] .... feels like its going....
And it feels like it is going....
What will happen when it is gone?Progressing
My neck will relax.
Your neck will relax.... and so what is
happening with the bad ghost and the warm fire?
Progressing
It's nearly gone.
It's nearly gone.
The LIGHT can replace that one as well.Resource
The light can replace that one as well..
It feels like it is gone now.OUTCOME ACHIEVED
And it feels like it is gone now... And
what does neck feel like now that bad ghost has gone?
Testing
It feels good... it feels loose now.
It feels good ....So neck is loose and is
relaxed... So how do you feel now that the light is on and the bad ghost is
gone?
Testing
I feel really good.
How does your neck feel?Testing
It feels good.
And how does you tummy feel?Testing
It feels good. It's comfortable.
And just look around yourself... is there
anything else that needs to be dealt with?
Testing
No, the rest is good.
And you feel this is... permanent?Testing
Yeah.
That's good. So now go back to the
feeling and see if you can still get that one you started with.....
CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
No, it's not coming back.
It's not coming back. And do you get the
feeling that it is gone forever?
Testing
Yeah.
And how does that make you feel?Testing
Ah... it feels great.
That's good.
So that feeling has gone forever?Testing
Mmm.
And when you think about food now... how
do you feel?
Testing
It's just food.
Just food.... and does it feel different?Testing
Mmmm.
So now are you strong? Strong enough to
be yourself?
Testing Prerequisite
Yes.
Strong enough to get visible?Testing Fear
Yeah.
And not get missed out?Testing Fear
Yes.
And get your share of everything?Testing Fear
Yeah.
That's good.
And now just go back and make sure that
first feeling is completely gone.
CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
Yeah.OUTCOME ACHIEVED
That's good. .... There's one last thing
you need to do.... I want you to go inside yourself and just issue a telegram
of gratitude... thankfulness... to your own unconscious mind for having kept
you safe for so long. For having looked after you ...and for letting you
become strong... letting you become strong enough to be yourself now ... and
just feel that gratitude coming back and washing over you.... And just really
feel the change in yourself.... That's good.... Just let me know when you
have done that.
Reinforcing change to the unconscious
Yes.
Thank you.

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