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Int J Psychoanal. 2013 Aug;94(4):689-713. doi: 10.1111/1745-8315.12044. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

'No entry', an invitation to intrude, or both? Reflections on a group of anorexic patients.

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  • 1Adult Department, Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA, UK.


This paper describes the twice-weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy of a young woman who had undergone major bowel surgery in her early 20s, with no clear medical indication for the surgery. Whilst the concept of 'No Entry' described by Williams (, b) aptly describes many features of more 'typical' anorexic patients, this paper describes a particular group of anorexic patients, referred by their physicians for multiple medical procedures; and proposes there is a group of anorexic patients, repeatedly referred for medical investigations, into whom particular types of entries occur. These are entries into the body 'legitimized' as medical, with a trajectory towards multiple procedures, examinations and surgical operations. Other entries (outside the medical setting) may occur in a state of altered consciousness, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, such that any wish for intrusion is disowned and denied. In both sets of events, intrusion is both invited, and consciously denied. The case example illuminates some of these features, and aspects of the countertransference are also described. Attention is drawn to relevant research focusing on surgical intrusion. Finally, there is an exploration as to how such patients may invite intrusions into the body through surgery and medical procedures.

Copyright © 2013 Institute of Psychoanalysis.


anorexia; applied analysis; countertransference; dreams; intrusion; projective processes; psychoanalytic psychotherapy; transference

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