by Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C

Part Five (Continued)

Discussion of Mary's Story

Mary found a way to protect herself as best she could from unavoidable and intolerable fear and pain. Her pain comes from more than the physical event.

Emotionally it is intolerable for Mary to know that her father can and will terrorize her at any time and that her mother will not or cannot protect her. The people she depends on for daily caretaking and protection are dangerous to her. She cannot bear to live with that knowledge and so she finds a way to know as little as possible about her true situation.

If Mary can blot these painful experiences from her awareness she will be able to fearlessly love and trust her father. She can also depend on her mother to care for her, and she can experience herself living in a safe world.

This has more to do with overeating than many people realize. A child has few self-protective resources. If an inescapable, painful, fearsome or humiliating situation exists, creative, strong children can put themselves into a trance. In this way they can dull the horror of their experience.

Children can divide their minds into pieces so that they are not present as a whole person during extreme torment. Different fragments carry different parts of the experience so the children do not have to know or remember the episodes in their entirety. In this way they make their experience manageable. Mary saved herself from having to tolerate through knowledge or memory what is intolerable.


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Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C., licensed by the State of California in 1980, is a Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (License #15563). She has a private practice in Los Angeles where she works with adult individuals and couples. She specializes in working with people with eating disorders and with people who are trying to understand and help a loved on who has an eating disorder.

Contact Information:
10573 West Pico Blvd. Suite 20
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 474-4165 phone
(310) 474-7248 fax

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