Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Dissertation on shame. Chapter 19.0 Food
13 participants talk about food in relation to shame in the interviews, and they mention food a total of 79 times (appendix 4). Food was also a topic spoken of in relation to body, being a means of control; some try to take back control of their body by controlling their eating routines in distorted ways. Camilla, Dagny, Bodil and Anne were all in the same focus group and discussed amongst other things their relation to food. They seem to show that they have different relations to it. Camilla and Bodil deny themselves food while Dagny and Anne eat abundant quantities of food. Even though they use food in different ways, they all seem to understand each other and why they relate to food the way they do. The common denominator in their mutual strive to control their eating seems to be shame. They’re ashamed both when they eat too much, when they do not eat too little, and just eating enough. The relation to food which Camilla and Bodil have has put them in situations where their health has been at risk. Both seem to have anorexia, and in periods as adults weighed close to 30 kilos. Weighing so little has made it necessary for hospital treatment, which again is experienced as shameful, because they once again lose control of their body. It might seem that victims experience that others once again take control of their body and therefore shame is induced, making life difficult.
Camilla: I feel ashamed every time I eat ((Smiles)) I feel ashamed then. I really do. I feel that I’m doing something I’m not supposed to. Then I feel shame.
Kaare: How little have you weighed?
Camilla: I’ve been a patient several times.
Kaare: You have? Have you weighed less than 40 kilos?
Camilla: I’ve weighed as little as 33 kilos. I’m much better now, but I still feel ashamed every time I eat. When I weighed 33 kilos I knew I had to go to the hospital. It was awfully shameful to gain weight again. I felt that I lost control. I’m terrified of losing control. Even though I have a normal weight now, it’s very difficult to cope.
Dagny: I can relate to that ((Nods her head towards Camilla)) about food and eating. But for me it’s the other way around. I can sit there and think my body looks fat and sloppy, and the next second I can sit there eating everything I can find. I eat until I go to bed, and when I wake up, I usually eat in the evenings, when I wake up the next day I’ve a whole lot of problems with my conscience for eating so much. So I try to compensate by not eating the rest of the day. That’s not very smart. My blood sugar goes up and down. And when the evening comes again, I eat everything I can find before going to bed, and the next day, I have an even guiltier conscience. ((Twirls her hands around and shakes her head)). Everything goes wrong.
Camilla: It has to do with trusting others. At least for me it does, ( ) it’s not dangerous to eat.
Bodil: ((Nods her head)) I know everything about that, ((Laughs)) in periods I’ve had problems with food and eating.
Kaare: Have you also weighed 30-40 kilos?
Bodil: Oh yeah.
Anne: There are a lot of tricks you can do with food and eating. Not eating, eating real fast, or a whole lot. Those are the tricks I’ve used. I’ve got diabetes and that makes eating much more complicated. Or it has greater consequences when I don’t eat. I can’t have periods where I don’t eat at all. I’m either ashamed of feeling so stupid, horrible, and completely useless, and therefore don’t deserve any food. And then everything can change the other way and I eat much too much and feel ashamed about that afterwards. ((Laughs))…Both are just as shameful.
Camilla, Bodil and Anne smile and laugh when they say that they are ashamed of there eating disorders, and thereby seem to show, in my opinion, paralinguistic markers (appendix 20) of feeling shame when speaking on this subject. Speaking of this seeming shameful subject in a focus group was also in my opinion an advantage. They spoke freely together, making alliances and supporting each other in a manner that would have been impossible with in-depth interviews one by one.
Kaare T. Pettersen
Pettersen,Kaare Torgny, 2009: An Exploration into the Concept and Phenomenon of Shamewithin the Context of Child Sexual Abuse. An Existential-Dialogical Perspectiveof Social Work within the Settings of a Norwegian Incest Centre. PhD 2009 Department of Social Work and HealthScience Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management. NorwegianUniversity of Science and Technology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. Doctoral theses 2009: 184