A YOGI CHA BLOG
Did you ever drink a glass of your favourite juice and experienced pleasure? I bet you have.
Just like you have eaten your favourite sweet treat not for hunger but for joy. We don’t drink or eat only for feeding or thirst. We do it very much for the pleasure of it.
In the DSM there are today 8 versions of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the 3 most commonly known. If you google them you will find different symptoms of these disorders and everything is food related. Of course.
But today I want to speak of the origins of eating disorders from my background of psychoanalysis studies. Because, just like my patient once looked at me and said “it’s not about the food” …indeed maybe the origins of these disorders are not about the food.
Because let’s not disregard the most important part of eating : putting something into our mouth.
We learn to experience the world through our mouth. We learn what sensations are through our mouth.
In psychoanalysis we look at the developmental stages of the human psyche and we can clearly see how a baby goes through an oral phase first of all. They experience their world through their mouths. They are developing a relationship to sensations with their lips, tongue and taste.
They experience their very first relationship through the mouth. They receive intimacy, nourishment and care from the mother and the breast. It is the discovery of pleasure and love. They are being loved, given love, given food and safety from their mother. All through the mouth.
The mouth is our very first encounter with sensations, sensuality, satisfaction, desire.
The mother function (not necessarily the biological mother, it’s the function of her we speak of) is directly related to this and therefore the child associates receiving love with being nurtured.
Suction is part of the learning process of pleasure for the child, directly associated with the mouth.
But the child also learns through this pleasure of putting something into their mouth, the disappearing of this same object. Was it enough? Did it satisfy to its full extent or is there now a lack, a desire for more.
In psychoanalysis, eating disorders are not illnesses, they are symptoms. It’s the manifestation of how the person positions themselves. Everyone experiences illness but how it expresses itself will always be singular. The most difficult part of the analytic treatment is the singularity of the subject, the patient. I believe that this is a crucial consideration in this world of wanting to label everyone, of wanting to short cut everything and simplify. The uniqueness of a person is highly important for taking pleasure in your existence because what it implies, is truly the message behind any self development, any spiritual practice : the embracing of all parts of ourselves. As long as we do not accept every dark corner of our being, we are not letting life flow freely through us. We are constricted and we are resisting what is.
Disclaimer : this uniqueness of the being is not to be confused with the tendency we see of everyone wanting to be special. On the contrary, this constant striving to be special that we see, the narcissism is nothing more than trying to hide the fact that we deep down don’t have faith in our uniqueness.
Keep in mind this idea of being constricted and resisting what is as we go further. Because deep down in the resistance of what is, is the resistance of life itself. We all have a drive for the living inherently inside of us but also for death. The death drive serves a purpose : the unconscious desire to no longer be. A desire for life to return to its original state. To start over again. For the blank sheet.
Coming back to the experience of pleasure discovered by the child.
Naturally, as this comes into our lives, so does its opposite. At one point the pleasure is there and when it is no longer, we become acutely aware of its absence.
Desire is born.
When the cookie is put into the mouth, there is an explosion of pleasure. Yet, the cookie has to disappear because it dissolves into particles and slides down the throat and into the stomach. Was it enough? Are we satisfied?
Can we ever be satisfied?
So, here we are as the small child, learning to position ourselves in our world from the sensational experience of the mouth. We are sentient beings. It defines our aliveness.
As we experience pleasure we also learn what desire and satisfaction is. And of course, the absence of pleasure not only creates the desire for more but the acute experience of lack. What is lacking? A void.
A void that we will spend a lifetime trying to understand and to fill.
What is so painful with the void?
Is it maybe that in that space of nothingness lies our own inexistence?
This is what I want to focus on today.
Because of course we have the aspect of controlling one’s experience here. But beyond the manifested act to control how the body looks and reacts is a deeper act to control the desire of satisfaction. Putting something into my mouth, I experience satisfaction and therefore the act itself comes from a desire to feel satisfaction. But to acknowledge this means to acknowledge that in fact I do desire.
If I don’t want to acknowledge my own desire, it is in the doubt that it will not be satisfied. There would be no reason to not accept that I desire if it is obvious that satisfaction will come from it.
There is no greater pain than the non-presence of that fulfilled desire because it implies that lack exists.
If lack is there, it brings a void. That void is something so excruciating that everyone will find a way around not feeling it. After all, what is a distraction if not a way to fill a void?
What is a too talkative person if not someone who fears the void of silence?
Inexistence, not being seen.
Basically, if i learn from the mother’s breast to experience the void of satisfaction, the unfulfilled desire, i will number one, find a way to control my own desire in the future and number two search for a way to not experience the pain of the void.
Are my needs being met and if not, why is that? Am I so unlovable, so insignificant that I don’t deserve to feel satisfaction? Is satisfaction something that the other gives me or can i become so self sufficient that all desire is cancelled? That I become the blank sheet, destroy it all to become invincible. No one can ever create that void inside of me again if there is nothing to fill.
To seek pleasure with food. More so, to seek the end of suffering through the sensations felt with the mouth.
It’s about satisfaction. So the fact of not eating or to be very controlling of what i put into my mouth is a question of accepting the fact that I desire. Because the satisfaction in itself can only happen if I allow myself to desire, to want, to yearn for.
The reason I would not recognise my wanting can only be if I’m afraid of it.
I fear my own desire.
But to recognise this means that I acknowledge the existence of lack.
That lacking is also possible.
When we turn our focus towards the lack it brings of course the notion of what we need. Are my needs being met?
If they are not being met, does that mean that I do not deserve to have them met?
Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞
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