A return to Sartre. An existential approach to the therapeutic relationship with young people with anorexia nervosa: clinical examples from an inpatient eating disorder service

Kevin Ball, Lucia Giombini

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The NICE guidelines (2017) for the psychological treatment of anorexia nervosa in young people recommend family-based therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy or psychodynamic therapy focused on the eating disorder, of all which externalisation is an integral technique. In contrast to this, we are challenging the premise of this method by using Sartre’s phenomenological ontology that does not presuppose the separation of the person from the illness, which is the basic premise of the externalisation. We present the key-concepts of Sartre as described in ‘Being and Nothingness’. We describe the ontological categories of the in itself and for itself, and their development into human reality in the form of facticity and transcendence. In addition, we explore the concept of the look, the psychic body and the notion of objectification through three clinical cases. We conclude by reflecting on the value of Sartre’s existential ontology to the promotion of the importance of collaboration in co-constructing treatment with patients and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-277
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2023

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