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‘Mum’s needs are just on the back-burner’: An exploration of the lived experiences of mothers diagnosed with anorexia

Fitzpatrick, Marie-Claire

Authors

Marie-Claire Fitzpatrick marie2.fitzpatrick@live.uwe.ac.uk



Abstract

This study is concerned with exploring the lived experiences of six mothers who have experienced anorexia while raising their children. This group of women are currently under-represented in the eating disorder and anorexia literature. Much of the current literature on anorexia focuses on younger people; particularly young women. The limited literature that does exist on mothers with anorexia is often pathologising, where the women are represented as being needy, defiant and oppositional to treatment, or are signified as failing as mothers in important respects. The six women participated in telephone interviews that focused on how they made sense of their experiences of mothering and in seeking and receiving psychotherapeutic interventions for anorexia. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data. Three super-ordinate themes captured the ways in which these women made sense of their experiences. The first theme ‘We live in an Alice in Wonderland world’ illuminated the women’s feelings of ‘otherness’ through experiences of (in)visibility, shame and engaging with an anorexic identity. The second theme: ‘The windowsill syndrome’ highlighted the competing demands of motherhood and anorexia that were described by the women through the course of their narratives. The final theme: ‘Fuck you, don’t give up on me’ explored the diverse experiences of support and recovery, expressed through the stories the women told. The findings are examined in the context of dominant and feminist discourses on motherhood and anorexia. The utility of these findings for an increased psychological understanding of, and improved interventions for, mothers experiencing anorexia is also discussed. I argue that a focus on formulation, rather than diagnosis, would allow for a holistic perspective from which to inform help and support. Therapeutic interventions that acknowledge the life-world of the client offers a whole person focus that has often been lacking in therapy for the experience of anorexia. (The use of the word ‘treatment’ is part of a medicalised discourse and has been used sparingly in this research, primarily when discussing research that uses this term).

Thesis Type Thesis
APA6 Citation Fitzpatrick, M. ‘Mum’s needs are just on the back-burner’: An exploration of the lived experiences of mothers diagnosed with anorexia. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository....ribe.com/output/1490870
Keywords counselling psychology, eating disorders, eating disorder interventions, interpretative phenomenological analysis, motherhood, telephone interviews

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