Hunger for Connection : Finding Meaning in Eating Disorders book cover
1st Edition

Hunger for Connection
Finding Meaning in Eating Disorders

ISBN 9781138289604
Published January 8, 2018 by Routledge
176 Pages

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Book Description

Who develops which eating disorder and why? When do eating disorders begin and what fuels them? In Hunger for Connection, psychoanalyst and eating-disorder specialist Alitta Kullman expands on the "body/mind" personality organization she calls the "perseverant personality," illustrating how food and thought are linked from infancy, and for some, can become the primary source of nurturance and thought-processing for a lifetime—leading to what we call an eating disorder.

Writing in a highly accessible style, Kullman brings humor and gentleness to her interactions with patients, offering health professionals and mainstream readers alike an essential guide to understanding and/or working with cyclical eating disorders of all types. From psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and counsellors, to eating disorder specialists, researchers, and students, Hunger for Connection not only provides guidelines for therapists of varying theoretical orientations and levels of expertise, but help and hope to people suffering with eating disorders and those who care for and about them.

Table of Contents

Prologue; Introduction Part I: Making the Connection 1 reaching for connection 2 hunger in the nursery 3 thoughts in search of a thinker 4 missing links Part II: ‘Thinking’ with the Body: The "Perseverant" Personality 5 mind on a merry-go-round 6 thinking alone 7 food for thought 8 the "toxic container" 9 the "closed-circuit loop" 10 no words to say it 11 the shadow of shame 12 foreign relations Part III: Thinking with the Mind 13 thinking together  14 thinking about thinking 15 thinking about feeling 16 thinking about eating 17 thinking interrupted 18 thinking and linking; Epilogue; Glossary

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Alitta Kullman, PhD, PsyD, LMFT is a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in private practice in Newport Beach, CA. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.


"Dr. Kullman gives us a superbly detailed and profoundly insightful account of eating disorders, forms they take, structures and roots. She covers a lot of ground with depth and wisdom. It is a book steeped in experience, at once clinically useful and highly creative, with much to offer a wide variety of readers."-Michael Eigen, Ph.D., author of The Sensitive Self, Contact With the Depths, and Birth of Experience.

"Alitta Kullman has accomplished a somewhat remarkable feat. Drawing on forty years of clinical experience with hundreds of eating disordered patients, she has managed to write a text that is both accessible to practitioners who are new to working with this population and relevant to those with many years of experience. Her writing is clear and compelling, and she does a masterful job of integrating cutting edge theory with vivid clinical examples. Whether you are looking for a singular definitive volume on working with patients who struggle with food or are seeking to add to your existing library on eating disorders, you will want to own Hunger for Connection."-Steven Kuchuck, Editor, Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional, and President-Elect, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP).

"Dr. Kullman addresses eating disorders from a standpoint of sensitivity, knowledge, and experience. Hunger for Connection offers a clear and comprehensive appreciation of the roots of eating disorders in the emotional context of the earliest feeding relationship. It is beautifully presented and detailed, and reflects her own unique understandings and experiences. She combines compassion with theoretical and clinical sophistication to elucidate the interpersonal complexities and communications that are conveyed when the basic process of eating is disturbed. Her formulations are intricate, elegant, and offered in a manner that is accessible, engaging, and exciting."-Naomi Rucker, Ph.D., Psychologist and Psychoanalyst, co-author of Subject Relations: Unconscious Experience and Relational Psychoanalysis.

"Hunger for Connection made me hungry for more of Kullman's informative and innovative ideas about how food obsessions replace thinking as a way to manage life's many ups and downs. As someone who has tried many diets over the years, I followed Dr. Kullman’s patients’ efforts to manage their eating disorders with great interest—especially how their therapist used both their relationship and their unearthing of long-buried family conflicts to change their lives. As a practicing psychoanalyst I found Dr. Kullman's positive approach to a wide range of eating disorders clinically helpful, illuminating, and eminently readable."- -Justin A Frank, MD, Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst.

"As a psychoanalyst and psychologist specializing in Eating Disorders myself, I have known about Dr. Alitta Kullman’s work since her article first appeared in the professional journal, "Psychoanalytic Dialogues." I have often referred to her article as I struggle to understand my own eating disorder patients. I eagerly look forward to being able to use her book as a reference for my patients, and hope it will soon be in print."-Janet K. Smith, Ph.D., Psychologist and Psychoanalyst.

"As a psychologist specializing in Eating and Body Image Disorders, I find Dr. Alitta Kullman’s writing to be unusually innovative and engaging. She ties together in a uniquely engrossing style clinical and theoretical ideas about the "perseverant" personality, a phrase she coined, which so aptly describes a core dynamic of eating disordered patients. Alitta is bound to write a gripping book, which I look forward to sharing with my patients, supervision groups and other professional colleagues."-Judith Ruskay Rabinor, Ph.D., Psychologist, author of A Starving Madness: Tales of Hunger, Hope, and Healing in Psychotherapy.

Message to the author from Marissa, via Psychology Today: "I just finished reading your published article on the "perseverant" personality, and I just wanted to say thank you. I have never read anything that has been more accurate in depicting what my internal world is really like. Your theory was spot on in every dimension. I can’t wait to show my therapist....I hope you continue your work as I will look for anything you publish, for it has given me much hope."