Synopses & Reviews
Hearing about the destructive compulsion of bulimia nervosa
, outsiders may wonder, "How could you ever start?" Those suffering from the eating disorder ask themselves in despair, "How can I ever stop?" How do you break the cycle of bingeing, vomiting, laxative abuse, and shame? While many books describe the descent into eating disorders and the resulting emotional and physical damage, this book describes recovery.
Psychologist Sheila Reindl has listened intently to women's accounts of recovering. Reindl argues compellingly that people with bulimia nervosa avoid turning their attention inward to consult their needs, desires, feelings, and aggressive strivings because to do so is to encounter an annihilating sense of shame. Disconnected from internal, sensed experience, bulimic women rely upon external gauges to guide their choices. To recover, bulimic women need to develop a sense of self--to attune to their physical, psychic, and social self-experience. They also need to learn that one's neediness, desire, pain, and aggression are not sources of shame to be kept hidden but essential aspects of humanity necessary for zestful life. The young women with whom Reindl speaks describe, with great feeling, their efforts to know and trust their own experience.
Perceptive, lucid, and above all humane, this book will be welcomed not only by professionals but by people who struggle with an eating disorder and by those who love them.
Sensing the Self is unique in that it goes beyond what any other study has attempted in terms of the depth of the interviews conducted and the thorough and compelling nature of Reindl's analysis. Reindl brings us back to our clinical senses in recognizing recovery as much more complicated than just the elimination of symptoms. This is a book which reasserts the importance of attending to and deeply understanding the self-experience of women struggling with bulimia nervosa, if we are truly to develop effective and enduring treatments, and ultimately, prevention strategies. Laura Weisberg, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Shame is the villain and persistence the heroine in this analysis of 13 women who recovered from bulimia...Bolstering the stories of her subjects with other research and writings as well as her own clinical experience, the author detects a pattern that resembles, but does not mimic, the patterns of other addictions. What she found was a sense of shame, of being 'inadequate and bad'...[Sensing the Self] is sensitive, informative, and likely to be helpful to both client and therapist. Kirkus Reviews
Sensing the Self is an eloquent and important book, potentially a turning point in the study of eating disorders. Its most original insight is highlighted in the title: the importance of coming to experience a sense of self, with the stress on sense rather than self. No other book so successfully combines psychodynamic understanding and a practical, systematic "how-to" approach. Reindl describes the impairments in sensing self-experience that lead to bulimia, the six essential elements that enable individuals to sense when enough is enough, the aspects of oneself that need to be sensed, including the "beast," and how one learns to sense self-experience. Her understanding of the way elements of bulimia can persist throughout life, and yet not ruin life, is simultaneously realistic and hopeful. Sensing the Self will appeal to therapists and patients alike, and for that matter, to all women who have struggled with eating and deep self-doubts about their bodies. Susan Sands, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Sensing the Selfis unique in that it goes beyond what any other study has attempted in terms of the depth of the interviews conducted and the thorough and compelling nature of Reindl's analysis. Reindl brings us back to our clinical senses in recognizing recovery as much more complicated than just the elimination of symptoms. This is a book which reasserts the importance of attending to and deeply understanding the self-experience of women struggling with bulimia nervosa, if we are truly to develop effective and enduring treatments, and ultimately, prevention strategies.
Completed by an appendix on research on recovery and a thorough list of references, Reindl's book will sit well in collections strong on women's issues as well as eating disorders per se. Whitney Scott
Using clinical interviews conducted with women recovering from bulimia nervosa...Sheila Reindl has constructed a thought-provoking study that manages to be both scholarly and highly readable...In her clear analysis of the factors that contribute to the development of, and recovery from, bulimia, Reindl offers insights that will be appreciated by anyone who has experienced the ravages of an eating disorder either firsthand or through the suffering of a loved one...Distinguished by the respect and attention that Reindl pays to the voices of her subjects Sensing the Self ultimately succeeds in providing both clinicians and laypersons with an unusually patient-centered picture of the journey out of bulimia. Booklist
In a field that is overflowing with theories and therapies, this book offers a useful set of tools and insights about bulimia. Reindl interviewed and studied 13 women who met the clinical criteria for bulimia nervosa. She found that these women had difficulty sensing self-experience. In order to improve and recover from their debilitating and destructive behaviors, they needed to engage in a process of self-discovery that involves nine key components. In addition to certain standard approaches, such as learning to listen to one's body, the author includes factors unique to working with this population...[Sensing the Self] provides a very good examination of the complex components and issues involved in this life-threatening illness. Rebecca Sherman - Radcliffe Quarterly
While many books describe the emotional and physical damage of eating disorders, this book describes recovery. Psychologist Sheila Reindl has listened intently to women's accounts of recovering and argues that people with bulimia nervosa need to develop a sense of self--to attune to their physical, psychic, and social self-experience.
About the Author
Sheila M. Reindl is a psychologist at Harvard University's Bureau of Study Counsel and has a private practice of psychotherapy in Cambridge.
Harvard University Bureau of Study Counsel
Table of Contents
1. Coming to Their Senses
2. Sensing When Enough Is Enough
3. Physical, Psychic, and Social Self-Experience
4. Beauty and the Beast
5. Learning to Sense Self-Experience
6. Sensing Self through Relationship
7. Sustaining Recovery
Appendix: Research on Recovery