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(Im)possibilities of the feminine: The sexuality of women with eating disorders from the perspective of female adolescents, their mothers and their fathers

Grant number: 12/23854-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2013
Effective date (End): July 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Psychological Treatment and Prevention
Principal Investigator:Manoel Antônio dos Santos
Grantee:Carolina Leonidas
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):15/15103-5 - The (im)possibilities of the feminine: sexuality of women with eating disorders, BE.EP.DR


Eating disorders (ED) have gained increasing visibility in recent years. They are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior, which can result in biological, psychological and social losses. From the perspective of psychoanalysis, in general, ED can be understood as somatic responses to states of emotional tension triggered by mental processes that have not been symbolized. This difficulty of symbolization seems to be related to the inability of the adolescent to individuate, assuming an adult woman´s body and mind. Therefore, she remains psychologically fused to the mother. The psychic fusion and the resulting mental anguish of separation from mother figure are also related to unconscious representations of femininity: the irruption of sexuality in adolescence leads the girl to experience grief over the loss of the child's body that, just as parents of childhood, is being left behind. Based on the concept that, in the context of ED, also mothers have difficulties to emotionally separate from daughters, so that accepting the awakening of their femininity becomes something intolerable, and that there is also a return of the daughter, who also experiences the anguish of separation due to fear of being abandoning the mother, we hypothesize that the symptom of food refusal may be considered as an unconscious defense to obliterate the separation-individuation process. In this direction, the present study aims to investigate the development of sexuality and femininity in women with TA, trying to establish relationships between these personality traits and the symptoms that characterize the psychopathological disorder. It is a collective case study, descriptive and cross-sectional, with qualitative approach. The convenience sample will consist of teenagers and young adults with ED, linked to the Assistance Group on Eating Disorders (GRATA) of the Clinic´s Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, from the University of São Paulo (HC-FMRP-USP), and their parents (parental couple, interviewed separately). The instruments used for data collection will be: semi-structured interviews, to be applied individually, and field journal, to be developed by the researcher. The interview will be audio-recorded for later transcription and thematic content analysis. Data will be interpreted with the support of the theoretical framework of McDougall´s psychoanalytic psychosomatic (1991, 1997). It is hoped that this study can provide knowledge to clinical practice with regard to the relationship between the experiences related to sexuality/femininity and the symptoms of ED, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the psychological aspects by professionals involved in care, prevention and health promotion.

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
CAROLINA LEONIDAS; MANOEL ANTÔNIO DOS SANTOS. Transtornos Alimentares e Sexualidade Feminina: Evidências Atuais e Implicações Futuras. Psico-USF (Impresso), v. 25, n. 1, p. 101-113, . (12/23854-2)
CAROLINA LEONIDAS; MANOEL ANTÔNIO DOS SANTOS. Ilusão simbiótica e construção da identidade feminina nos transtornos alimentares: perspectiva da psicossomática psicanalítica. Ágora: Estudos em Teoria Psicanalítica, v. 23, n. 1, p. 84-93, . (12/23854-2)
Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
LEONIDAS, Carolina. The (im)possibilities of the feminine: Sexuality of women with eating disorders from the perspective of female adolescents, their mothers and their fathers. 2016. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (PCARP/BC) Ribeirão Preto.

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