Case Study: Compulsive Eating Behaviors from an Intersubjective Lens

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Peter Buirski, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Judy Fox, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Emily Markley, Psy.D.


Compulsive eating behaviors, Intersubjective, Psychodynamic, Affect regulation

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


Many articles, both qualitative and quantitative, have explored the psychology behind compulsive eating and eating behaviors. Across the board, researchers have attributed one of the main functions of compulsive eating behavior to be that of affect regulation. Intersubjective theory is a therapy focused primarily on affect and thus useful in treating clients with difficulty regulating affect. This paper will seek to explore the function of compulsive eating with an intersubjective lens through the examination of the clinical case of Jill. By exploring her primary attachment figures, early memories, and current patterns of behavior, the meaning behind Jill’s compulsive eating becomes clear. From the intersubjective perspective, the concretization of food first and foremost provides a solution to the otherwise unbearable affect in Jill’s memories and everyday life. Jill’s childhood was marked by emotional neglect and critical restrictions of her diet and her free time. Now, Jill uses the concretization of food to self-regulate and distract from her lack of human connection. It is our goal that as the meaning of Jill’s compulsion becomes clearer and the traumatic emotions she experienced are acknowledged, the affects she is warding off become more tolerable and her compulsive behaviors subside.


30 pgs

Paper Method

Case Study

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