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Father-daughter relationship in the context of eating disorders: a Winnicottian perspective

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Lilian Regiane de Souza Costa
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: Ribeirão Preto.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (PCARP/BC)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Manoel Antonio dos Santos; Jorge Luis Ferreira Abrão; Leila Salomao de La Plata Cury Tardivo
Advisor: Manoel Antonio dos Santos

Eating Disorders (EDs) are considered psychosomatic conditions, characterized by severe alterations in eating behavior. The increasing prevalence and harms experienced by individuals with EDs make these psychopathologies receive growing attention from the scientific community. There are evidences that aspects of family dynamics influence the onset and course of the disorder. The new family configurations and the inclusion of women in the labor market demand a greater male participation in child care. Winnicott argues that, at each stage of emotional development, the father has an important role in the emotional maturation of the child. Studies show that fathers of women with EDs are not able to have a significant presence during the psycho-affective development of their daughters. In view of the lack of studies on the father figure, the objective in this study was to investigate the psychodynamics involved in the father-daughter relationship in the context of EDs. It is a clinical-qualitative research with a psychoanalytic approach, specifically Winnicott\'s theory. Six women diagnosed with EDs and their fathers participated. A semi-structured interview was held with each participant and the Procedure of Family Drawings with Stories (DF-E) was performed. Verbalizations were audio recorded with the participants\' consent. The material obtained with the DF-E was analyzed by means of the free inspection method. The findings from the semi-structured interviews and DF-E were subject to thematic content analysis. The data indicated a father-daughter relationship marked by low permissiveness of affective manifestations. The results show that the fathers, during childhood, faced absent or authoritarian father figures, as well as mother figures not available for emotional exchanges. Educated within an environment struggling to meet their emotional needs, in order to avoid access to the anguish aroused by affective dissatisfaction, the parents defensively avoided their emotions. Together with the presence of emotionally distant fathers, daughters sought their continence and acceptance. Daugthers perceived the concern and care of their fathers, but showed they were dissatisfied. It can be inferred that, in the absence of an environment that would support the daughters in integrating their experiences, they used the body as a tool to express the lack of parental affection. These study findings highlighted the relevance of paternal involvement in the symptomatic manifestation of their daughters. Thus, the inclusion of fathers in the daughters\' treatment may provide better opportunities to integrate the emotional experiences of both. (AU)