When someone you love appears to be struggling with an eating disorder, it is hard to know what to say or do. Families and friends need information and guidelines if they are to be helpful. In their recently-published fourth edition of Surviving an Eating Disorder (Fourth Edition; Harper Perennial, 2021), Michele Siegel, Judith Brisman, and Margot Weinshel walk loved ones through everything they need to know to help their loved one with an eating disorder, taking into account the latest developments in knowledge about the condition as well as the culture at large. In my interview with Dr. Brisman, we discuss why eating disorders are so complex to understand and treat and key strategies for engaging the suffering person that are helpful and supportive.
Judith Brisman, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Manhattan, New York. She is former director of the Eating Disorder Resource Center and serves as editor for the journals Contemporary Psychoanalysis as well as the journal Eating Disorders. She is also faculty at the William Alanson White Institute. She is internationally known as one of the first in her field to develop a treatment program for patients with bulimia, and she has published and lectured extensively regarding the interpersonal treatment of eating disorders.
Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute in Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York City and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group; and faculty at Florida Psychoanalytic Institute in Miami. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (2018, Routledge) and has published on issues of gender, sexuality, and sexual abuse.