Accepted Paper:

"Close your eyes and let yourself go": the construction of trust in a treatment for eating disorders  


Federica Deiana (Spanish Council for Social Scientific Research)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to explore how the relationships of trust between doctors and patients are built, and how the perception of the clinic as a “safe place” is shaped, in the context of an Eating Disorder treatment Center

Paper long abstract:

Dialectical interaction between trust and uncertainty undoubtedly represent a fundamental dimension in the understanding of the processes of therapeutic recovery. Thise considerations are especially evident in the management of mental disorders, where feelings such as vulnerability and uncertainty are particularly relevant.

In the field of mental illnesses, Eating Disorders represent an especially complicated case on the issue of creating trust in the therapeutic context. In fact, patients with Eating Disorders often show a great lack of trust in doctors that affects not just the results, but also the whole developing of the healing process. This distrust is mainly due to the denial of the pathological dimension of their eating behaviors, claimed by the doctors. This rejection is where the resistance to the regular diet suggested by doctors partly lies; is therefore fundamental, in order to remove that rejection, to eliminate that feeling of distrust. In this sense, the creation of that bond of trust between doctors and patients is closely intertwined with the process of self reflection and acceptance for the patient of his/her health problems. The analysis of these processes may thus open interesting reflections on the role of these dynamics of trust / distrust in the determination of certain self-perception of the illness and healing experience.

In this paper I will explore the construction of the relationship of trust between patients and doctors using the ethnographic data (notes and interviews) collected during my participant observation (1 year) in an Eating Disorders Centre in Madrid.

Panel W132
Uncertainty and trust in medicines and therapeutic techniques