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
|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.
|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
|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?
|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?
|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?
|and it's really ugly and I want to keep
|It's ugly and you want to keep it
hidden... and what would you like to happen to that head?
|I would like it to leave.
|You would like it to leave... What is the
purpose of that head?
|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...
|And what would happen if it left?
|I'd get missed out.
|You'd get missed out...
|I wouldn't get my share....
|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....
|I'd be more peaceful... but I would miss
out... and I would be more invisible....
|So you'd be more peaceful... but you
would be more invisible...
|And is there a way that this head could
leave... and you wouldn't miss out... and you could get your share?
|I guess people could see my real face... uhuh
|So if people could see your real face...
you would not get missed out... and you would be able to get your share?
|And it there a way... what would have to
happen... for that Scavenger Face to go away? To leave?
|Say if I felt strong enough to just be myself.... be myself
|So if you felt strong enough to just be
yourself... And what would be needed for you to feel strong enough to just be
|I think if... a light switched on inside.
|So if a LIGHT was switched on inside...
you could be strong enough to just be yourself?
|And you would be more peaceful.. and you
would not miss out? So what is this LIGHT like, that gets switched on inside
|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...
|....and the SCAVENGER FACE could go away?
|And is there a switch with this LIGHT
|Uhuh, and what's the switch like?
|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....
|And what would have to happen for that
SWITCH to go on?
|[weeps] I want my husband to do it....
|You want your husband to do it...and can
you imagine your husband finding that LIGHT SWITCH?
|[stops weeping] Yeah.
|And if your husband finds that LIGHT
SWITCH.... can he turn it on?
|And can you imagine him.... reaching out
and turning it on?
|And when he turn it on.... what happens
to the SCAVENGER HEAD?
|It's shrinking it... like a balloon.
|It's shrinking it like a balloon..... And
what happens to the SCAVENGER HEAD when it shrinks like a balloon?
|It's getting really small and wrinkly.
|Getting really small and wrinkly...
|Disappearing into... into nothing.
|Disappearing into nothing... and has it
|So that SCAVENGER HEAD has gone. It's
|So now the HEAD has left... what happened
to GET MISSED OUT and NOT GET SHARE?
|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?
|And so, will you be MORE PEACEFUL?
|And would you be INVISIBLE?
|So now that the SCAVENGER HEAD has
gone... and you are MORE PEACEFUL.... what happened to the problem about
|I can be with myself.
|You can be with yourself.
|I can just be more united in my
decisions. And what I have got on my teach [?]
|Uhuh. And are you strong enough now?
|And is that LIGHT SWITCH on permanently?
|I am not too sure.
|How would you know?
|I don't like the idea that it's a switch,
because that means it can be turned off again.
|OK, so a switch could be turned off...
|Maybe I need to destroy the switch... so
the wiring is permanently on.
|Yes. And can you destroy the switch?
|And how are you going to destroy the
|Just melt it. [Nodding]
|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.
|And can you get that light to go
|Can you get it to go really bright?
|... [long pause] [nods]....
|And now that that light is on permanently
and it's really bright... How do you feel?
|I feel lighter.
|You feel lighter.
|And are you strong enough now to just be
|And is there anything else about STRONG
ENOUGH? And having no problem with food?
|Ah... that feels good
|And just look around inside..... is there
anything else that ... needs to be cleared?
|I think my stomach has something going
|Uhuh.... Your stomach has something going on...
|And whereabouts in the stomach is that
something going on?
|It's right in the middle.
|Right in the middle.
|In the belly button area.
|Round the belly button. And what shape is
that something that is going on around the belly button?
|It's kind of .... a disc shape.
|And what else about that disc shape?
|Uhuh... it's a grey disc shape.... and what else...
|Moving... moving how?
|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
|Yeah, I think I can.
|And where can you move it to?
|I just want to throw it away.
|Can you move it outside your body?
|And where is it now?
|It's moved up into my chest a bit.
|Uhuh... Can you move it outside your body?
|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
|And where is it now?
|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?
|It's this grey mist.
|And what would you like to have happen to
this grey mist?
|It's just dissipating.
|And what happens next?
|I have send the LIGHT down to where it was.
|You are sending the LIGHT down to where
it was....And then what?
|.... [sigh] It feels OK.
|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?
|And are you strong enough to be yourself
and be MORE PEACEFUL and be VISIBLE....
|Testing Asset and Fear
|....and get your share and not miss
|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
|And happy... and do you feel any need to
... take more than your share?
|And do you feel that this opportunity
might not come again?
|And so ... do you feel in control?
|And just look around inside
yourself....is there anything that... there that needs to be dealt with?
|No, it all feels really good.
|And it all feels pretty good.....and you
can see that LIGHT..
|And its bright and constant... and it's
|.... and comfortable.... and does that
mean that you are warm and comfortable?
|Does that mean that you are strong...?
|And you feel OK about yourself?
|And is there anything else you need?
|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.
|Has it gone?
|Do you get the feeling it's gone for
|Could be, yeah.
|Feels like it might come back.
|So that feels like it might come back....
what does that feeling look like?
|It feels like it might come out of my
|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?
|It's like a really bad ghost.
|That can reform.
|Uhuh... like a bad ghost that can reform in your neck.
|And whereabouts in the neck?
|In the back of my neck.
|At the back of the neck.
|Just feels really tense... anxious...
|What else about this ghost? This bad
|Well, I'm scared of it.
|Scared of it.
|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?
|Burn up. So you would like this ghost to
|Can the ghost burn up?
|And so how would that ghost get burned
|It's a nice warm fire... would burn it up.
|A nice warm fire would burn it up.....
and so does that nice warm fire burn it up?
|It's working on it.
|It's working on it.
|.... [long silence] .... feels like its going....
|And it feels like it is going....
|What will happen when it is gone?
|My neck will relax.
|Your neck will relax.... and so what is
happening with the bad ghost and the warm fire?
|It's nearly gone.
|It's nearly gone.
|The LIGHT can replace that one as well.
|The light can replace that one as well..
|It feels like it is gone now.
|And it feels like it is gone now... And
what does neck feel like now that bad ghost has gone?
|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
|I feel really good.
|How does your neck feel?
|It feels good.
|And how does you tummy feel?
|It feels good. It's comfortable.
|And just look around yourself... is there
anything else that needs to be dealt with?
|No, the rest is good.
|And you feel this is... permanent?
|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?
|And how does that make you feel?
|Ah... it feels great.
|So that feeling has gone forever?
|And when you think about food now... how
do you feel?
|It's just food.
|Just food.... and does it feel different?
|So now are you strong? Strong enough to
|Strong enough to get visible?
|And not get missed out?
|And get your share of everything?
|And now just go back and make sure that
first feeling is completely gone.
|CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
|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