Together, the first two barriers (not belonging in our own bodies or in the world) undermine our abilities to belong to each other--in partnerships, families, groups, and communities. I experienced this, intimately, in my own family. I vividly remember the day my mother bought my bat mitzvah dress. I awoke in an empty house. Even worse, overeating makes me feel ashamed. Thought: If I don't eat this, I'll feel worse. Thought Zapper: That's not true. Feeling the emotion will enable me to better tackle it directly. Thought: But I'm hungry . Thought Zapper: Do I feel true hunger on a physiological level? Or am I just angry/anxious/sad/looking for something to do? Multitask Eating Eating while you're doing something else is so easy to do. Breakfast in the car on the way to work, browsing online while eating lunch . Research indicates that therapists fluctuate, in amount of activity, from meeting to meeting, but that there is generally no tendency to decrease in activity as the sessions continue. Recalling the purpose of the therapist may provide an indication of when the therapist should be active and when he should let group members act in his place: the goal is to maintain in the group a dependable atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, where threat to the individual member is minimal, and where there is maximum safety in self-examination. The expectation would thus be that the therapist skillfully adjusts his behavior to insure attainment of this goal. Telschow has established a number of other interesting relationships evident in the role of the group therapist. A good index of the group-centeredness of therapy may be found in his correlation between member and therapist activity. For the groups which he studied, a correlation of .

The lower this correlation, the less the therapist is following the lead of the group. A finding of his research that goes somewhat contrary to expectation is that restatement of content, by the therapist, is therapeutically somewhat more effective than either simple acceptance or clarification of feeling. The superiority over simple acceptance (Um-hmm, I see, I understand, and the like) is not surprising, but reflection of feeling has long been considered a most helpful kind of therapist response. Its relative inadequacy may lie in the extent to which reflections of feeling are interpretive, going beyond the perceptual field of the individual at the moment. My parents and brother were out shopping for suits. Hanging next to it was a white tux shirt and black bow tie, unworn since. I coveted all of it. I slipped on the shirt and then the suit. As I adjusted the tie, I imagined what it would feel like walking through the world wearing this suit. There I was, modeling in front of his mirror, feeling oh-so-right expressing my masculinity, when my mother unexpectedly burst into the room. She stared in stunned silence for a moment, obviously horrified, and then said, Straight to your room and take it off this moment, young lady, before your brother and father see you. She followed me into my room, making sure no one else witnessed my shame, which was clearly her shame as well. You're going to be a woman now, she said. No more dressing or acting like a boy. The problem is that you're compromising another precious resource in the process: your physical well-being. We can't perform another task and monitor how much we eat at the same time, so we consume more than we're aware of, at a faster rate. This scrambles the hunger/satiety signals in your body. There are several methods by which the body signals satiety, like a distended stomach and the release of the hormone leptin (the body's natural appetite control). If we're eating quickly, by the time our body picks up on these signals, we've already eaten too much. You remember Pavlov's dogs?

In this famous experiment, dogs were given food just after they heard the jingling of keys to open their cages, and eventually, they began salivating as soon as they heard the jingle, whether they got food or not. Similarly, if you frequently snack while watching television, you'll start looking for food as soon as you tune in, whether you're hungry or not. Psychologists call this classical conditioning. It's the reason why we automatically crave popcorn or licorice the instant we enter a movie theater. Telschow examines this possibility further and demonstrates that individuals who did not gain from the group therapy experience responded most frequently to clarification of feeling by statements of a distinctively defensive character (ambivalent acceptance of interpretation, rejection of clarification, expressions of confusion, defensive remarks, and deflection of topic being discussed). They apparently perceived the reflections of feeling as being threatening to themselves and responded in a fashion to protect their current self-organizations. The issues need further examination, both in individual and group therapy situations. To gain an understanding of the role of the group therapist, we may turn again to the viewpoint of the client. Here are some excerpts from diaries kept by group members during the course of therapy: I can remember a statement that seems to have helped me most. The group leader's clarification that I do not feel my values to be as important as those of others seems to be something I have thought about for a long while in almost those exact words, and I seem to have a vague feeling of having verbalized it. Recognition of this by someone else gave me a great feeling of relief. Now I do not feel called upon to hide it. I have not considered the group leader apart from the group as a whole. It's time to grow up. Later that day, she bundled me into the car to go pick out the frilly dress I was to wear. My childhood innocence was shattered. I got the message that my authentic expression of gender was inappropriate and shameful. To survive in my family, I would have to hide my masculinity. There was no sanctuary for me, and therefore no belonging, in my own home.

Even during my father's speech at my bat mitzvah about what a beautiful young woman I was becoming, I wondered: Is he saying this because he means it or is he trying to make it true by saying it? My mother certainly had sussed that out, to our mutual distress. She was intervening, intensively, to try to turn me into a proper woman. Of all the traits he could have been proud of, my dad chose beauty, the one from which I felt most estranged. A Happy End to Emotional Eating Jan is probably one of our best examples of how the skills you're learning here can help you escape from entrenched emotional eating: I can tell you the details of every popular diet trend of the last fifteen years, but knowing that stuff wasn't nearly as helpful as understanding why it is that if I'm in an airport coming home from a business trip and my flight home is delayed, I have to buy a bag of pretzels. It has nothing to do with hunger. I'm feeling lonely or worried that I'm letting down the people at home, so I need some comfort. Knowing that has allowed me to say, Okay, I understand I'm lonely, but I'll have a cup of tea instead. Or better yet, I'll call them. Keeping these skills in the front of my mind has really accelerated lifestyle changes in a radically different way than before. I'm in better shape, I can manage my emotions . The good news is that, unlike Pavlov's dogs, you can teach yourself skills to counteract your conditioning. He stays in the background, although occasionally I am aware that he points up significant feelings which no one else has commented about. It's interesting about the group leader. He didn't intrude; On several occasions members have commented that they are aware of what the therapist is doing when he responds to someone else in the group, but that he is most unobtrusive when he is responding to them. Apparently when he is closely following a person, the therapist becomes a harmonious part of the thinking, aiding the process but not straining it by injecting new elements. GROUP MEMBERS AS THERAPISTS

There is a fascinating, and therapeutically very important, interplay of roles in group therapy. A member may introduce a theme and pursue its development with the assistance not only of the group leader but of other members as well. When a new theme is introduced, he may find himself no longer in the role of the perplexed and anxious client but in the role of the member who understands best what the new client is saying and who is most able to assist him in clarifying his perceptions of himself and his world. With the introduction of yet a third theme, he may find himself not too much concerned and remain on the sidelines. Femininity was being forced on me. Beauty was a weapon wielded against me rather than a tool I could wield. For me, puberty, the bat mitzvah, and all the humiliating preparations leading up to it, plus the gender training that came right after (a horrendous and traumatizing modeling school experience was next in my mother's well-meaning attempts to feminize me) were a crushing reinforcement of my alienation. Not coincidentally, this alienation and lack of belonging--within me and in every social space I occupied--coincided with the beginning of my eating disorder and substance abuse. Which is tragic when you remember that the bat mitzvah ritual is supposed to center on becoming a thinking, participating member of a spiritual and learned community. Instead, it gets tangled into a cult of womanhood and manhood. In my mind, personhood would accomplish the ultimate goal so much better. Some synagogues are catching on to the power inherent in avoiding this gender binary by adapting the plural term, b'nai mitzvah, as a way to denote a they mitzvah. The traditional prayers are altered, in Hebrew and in English, so that they is used in place of he or she. BRINGING IT HOME Follow these steps to break the cycle of multitask eating: Trap the Habit. Where and when do you multitask eat? Is it eating cookies while reading in bed, dinner in front of the TV, lunch in your cubicle while you work? Think back over the last few days, and list the times and places in which you ate while you were doing something else. Map the Habit.