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Fam Process. 1981 Dec;20(4):395-408.

Anorexia Nervosa: the hospital's role in family treatment.


When an anorexia nervosa patient requires hospitalization for her medical condition the treatment team faces the problem of integrating the individual focus of inpatient care with the systems focus of family therapy. In this paper we propose a family-systems model of hospitalization, the aim of which is to facilitate such integration. The model draws on current theories of anorexia nervosa, as well as general concepts from psychodynamic, developmental, and family systems theories. The major hypothesis of the model is that all members of the anorexic family are developmentally arrested in the area of separation-individuation. On this assumption, we propose that the entire treatment team (including medical professionals and therapist) needs to function as "parents" to the anorexic family in much the same way that two cotherapists become parental figures in a family therapy. Specifically, the team needs to provide those parenting the responses that facilitate the family's individuation process.

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