Prepare for the Overlords!

Facebook Badge

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Eating Disorder Recovery Center - Your internet site for eating disorders and support: "The absence of this secure environment for the infant to gets her needs met inhibits the individuation process of being autonomous and expressing intimacy (Friedlander & Siegel, 1990)."

Separation-Individuation Process and Related Psychiatric Disturbances. There are several ways that an unhealthy resolution of the separation-individuation process is manifested. The child attempts to individuate from the mother figure when the child is around two years of age and again during adolescence. Without a successful resolution as a toddler, there will be extreme difficulties when the adolescent attempts to individuate. These difficulties often lead to psychiatric disturbances (Coonerty, 1986).

Individuals with eating disorders and borderline personality disorders are very similar in their unsuccessful attempts to individuate. This is why they often present as a dual diagnosis. Before explaining their specific similarities, it is necessary to explain the stages of the first separation-individuation process (Coonerty, 1986).

The infant becomes attached to the mother figure during the first year of life, and then the separation-individuation process begins when the infant realizes that they are a separate person from the mother figure. The child then begins to feel as though the mother figure and herself are all powerful and does not rely on the mother figure for security. The final stage is rapprochement (Coonerty, 1986; Wade, 1987).

During rapprochement, the child becomes aware of her separation and vulnerabilities and seeks security again from the mother figure. Separation and individuation does not occur when the mother figure cannot be emotionally available to the child after she separated. Theorists believe this originates with the mother figure’s only initial attempt at individuation which was met with emotional abandonment from her mother (Coonerty, 1986; Wade, 1987).
When the child becomes an adolescent her inability to individuate again can result in eating disorder symptomology and borderline personality disorder symptomology such as attempts at self-harm. The child felt self-hatred for wanting to separate from the mother figure; therefore, these self-destructive behaviors are ego syntonic. These acting out behaviors of adolescence are attempts to regain emotional security while exercising dysfunctional autonomy. Furthermore, both sets of symptoms result from the lack of self-soothing mechanisms that make individuation impossible (Armstrong & Roth, 1989; Coonerty, 1986; Meyer & Russell, 1998; Wade, 1987).

There is a strong connection between eating disordered individuals’ and borderlines’ failed separation and individuation, but other psychiatric disturbances are related to separation-individuation difficulties as well. Researchers have found adult children of alcoholics and codependents in general to have difficulties individuating from their family of origin (Transeau & Eliot, 1990; Meyer & Russell, 1998). Coonerty (1986) found schizophrenics to have separation-individuation problems, but specifically they do not have the necessary attachment with their mother figure and they differentiate too early.

syn·ton·ic .
Psychology. Characterized by a high degree of emotional responsiveness to the environment.
Electricity. Of or relating to two oscillating circuits having the same resonant frequency.

Referring to aspects of a person's behavior, thoughts, and attitudes that are viewed by the self as acceptable and consistent with the total personality: ego syntonic

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
eureka, California, United States
As Popeye once said,"I ams what I am." But then again maybe I'm not