Weight Loss metaphor therapy technique
Weight Loss compulsive eating
    Eating Treatment
    Eating Treatment

Metaphor Therapy: The Hungry Head

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This client reported that she had put on weight and was unable to stop eating when food was around. She would attend company functions and obsess about the food and think of nothing else while the others were talking. She would compulsively eat more than colleagues and even found herself sneaking into the preparation room when no one was looking and taking items. She was quite unable to explain this behaviour, which had only started to be problem a few years ago. She had been brought up in a large competitive family where although there was enough to eat, you had to get in early and treats were few. Her mother's family had been a victim of Nazi oppression and both grandparents had in fact starved to death at home, a fact that her mother never tired of telling the children.

This page is a transcript of the session to deal with the eating compulsion.


THERAPIST/CLIENT -----------COMMENTS---------------
I want to talk to you about these feelings that you get.... about food.... I want you to think about the compulsion you have to eat certain things... about the need you feel to go and take something .... about this feeling you have that this opportunity might not come again... I would like you to really feel that inside your body... I want you to think about that... the whole thing... not any part of it... but the whole thing... It's all part of the same thing....  
I want you just to be quiet and calm... just allow your mind to open up... Into light trance
and become aware of where in your body that feeling resides... it's just that... that whole thing.... just allow yourself to take as much time as you need... and you might hear words and phrases and stuff going through your mind... that's not important.... just allow the chatter to die away... and focus inwardly... on becoming aware... getting in touch with that feeling... and become aware of where it is.. and the extent of it... and when you have done that... you can just say 'yes'. Seeking a somatic response
I think I have it.  
That's good.  
Now focus gently on that... and just thank your mind for letting you experience it... and just spread out some gratitude to that ... Allay unconscious reservations
and wait for a word... or a phrase... or a picture to appear.... that sums up... that has the essence of that feeling... and don't try to force it or think about... just.. the right thing will come.... and is a word or a phrase or picture that exactly fits it.... Seeking a 'seed' to start with
It's.... It's like a head... with a hungry... hungry eyes... and a hungry mouth... A picture appears
That's good.  
So it's like a head... with hungry eyes... and a hungry mouth....What else about that head? Elaborating the symbol
It's sort of black... and purple...  
It's black and purple... so there's a head with hungry eyes and a hungry mouth and it's black and purple.... and what else about that head? Elaborating
It's scary...and um.... sort of ferocious.  
And it's scary and ferocious and it's black and purple and it's got hungry eyes and hungry mouth... And what else about that head? Elaborating
Eyes are looking everywhere... trying to see... to get ready to grab....  
The eyes are looking everywhere...trying to see.... ready to grab... and what else? Elaborating
and it's really ugly and I want to keep it hidden...  
It's ugly and you want to keep it hidden... and what would you like to happen to that head? Progressing
I would like it to leave. DESIRED OUTCOME
You would like it to leave... What is the purpose of that head? Purpose
It's like a scavenger....  
It's like a scavenger.... So there's a head with hungry eyes and a hungry mouth... and it's got eyes looking everywhere ready to grab... ugly.. and you want to hide it... and you would like it to leave... Consolidation
And what would happen if it left? CONSEQUENCES
I'd get missed out. FEAR
You'd get missed out...  
I wouldn't get my share.... FEAR
So the purpose of this head is a scavenger...and you would like it to leave... but if it left you would get missed out and you would not get your share.... Consolidation
I'd be more peaceful... but I would miss out... and I would be more invisible.... BIND
So you'd be more peaceful... but you would be more invisible... Confirmation
And is there a way that this head could leave... and you wouldn't miss out... and you could get your share? Progressing
I guess people could see my real face... uhuh Pre-Requisite CONDITION
So if people could see your real face... you would not get missed out... and you would be able to get your share? Confirmation
And it there a way... what would have to happen... for that Scavenger Face to go away? To leave? Progressing
Say if I felt strong enough to just be myself.... be myself Pre-Requisite CONDITION
So if you felt strong enough to just be yourself... And what would be needed for you to feel strong enough to just be yourself? Progressing
I think if... a light switched on inside. Resource
So if a LIGHT was switched on inside... you could be strong enough to just be yourself? Confirmation
And you would be more peaceful.. and you would not miss out? So what is this LIGHT like, that gets switched on inside yourself? Elaborating
It's just a light bulb, but it's warm..... and comfortable.  
And a LIGHT BULB... and warm and comfortable... And if that LIGHT BULB that was warm and comfortable was to get switched on inside you would be strong enough to be yourself... Confirming
....and the SCAVENGER FACE could go away? Progressing
And is there a switch with this LIGHT BULB? Elaborating
Uhuh, and what's the switch like? Elaborating
It's one of those old fashioned ones... those round ones... on a stalk....  
So it's an old fashioned switch... one of the round ones... with a stalk.... Elaborating
And what would have to happen for that SWITCH to go on? Progressing
[weeps] I want my husband to do it.... Resource
You want your husband to do it...and can you imagine your husband finding that LIGHT SWITCH? Progressing
[stops weeping] Yeah.  
And if your husband finds that LIGHT SWITCH.... can he turn it on? Progressing
And can you imagine him.... reaching out and turning it on? Elaborating
And when he turn it on.... what happens to the SCAVENGER HEAD? Progressing
It's shrinking it... like a balloon. Symbol changing
It's shrinking it like a balloon..... And what happens to the SCAVENGER HEAD when it shrinks like a balloon? Progressing
It's getting really small and wrinkly.  
Getting really small and wrinkly...  
Disappearing into... into nothing.  
Disappearing into nothing... and has it gone Progressing
So that SCAVENGER HEAD has gone. It's left? Progressing
So now the HEAD has left... what happened to GET MISSED OUT and NOT GET SHARE? Testing Fears
Well, I could just ask for what I get.  
You could just ask for what you get. And you could just ask for what you need? Testing
And so, will you be MORE PEACEFUL? Testing Asset
Yeah [relieved]  
And would you be INVISIBLE? Testing Fear
So now that the SCAVENGER HEAD has gone... and you are MORE PEACEFUL.... what happened to the problem about food? Testing
I can be with myself.  
You can be with yourself. Elaborating
I can just be more united in my decisions. And what I have got on my teach [?]  
Uhuh. And are you strong enough now? Testing Prerequisite
And is that LIGHT SWITCH on permanently? Testing Resource
I am not too sure.  
How would you know? Elaborating
I don't like the idea that it's a switch, because that means it can be turned off again. FEAR
OK, so a switch could be turned off... Consolidating
Maybe I need to destroy the switch... so the wiring is permanently on. DESIRED OUTCOME
Yes. And can you destroy the switch? Progressing
And how are you going to destroy the switch? Progressing
Just melt it. [Nodding] Resource
And that switch is melting ... and the wiring is fusing together... in a safe and strong way.... and so that LIGHT SWITCH is gone and the light is permanently on. Progressing
And can you get that light to go brighter? Progressing
Can you get it to go really bright? Progressing
... [long pause] [nods]....  
And now that that light is on permanently and it's really bright... How do you feel? Testing
I feel lighter. Somatic Response
You feel lighter.  
And are you strong enough now to just be yourself? Testing Prerequisite
And is there anything else about STRONG ENOUGH? And having no problem with food? Testing
Ah... that feels good  
Feels good.  
And just look around inside..... is there anything else that ... needs to be cleared? Confirming
I think my stomach has something going on.... FEAR
Uhuh.... Your stomach has something going on...  
And whereabouts in the stomach is that something going on? Elaborating
It's right in the middle.  
Right in the middle. Elaborating
In the belly button area.  
Round the belly button. And what shape is that something that is going on around the belly button? Elaborating
It's kind of .... a disc shape.  
Disc shape.  
And what else about that disc shape? Elaborating
It's grey.  
Uhuh... it's a grey disc shape.... and what else... Elaborating
It's kinda...moving.  
Moving... moving how? Elaborating
Sort of undulating... outline of it is ... going in and out....  
So there's a disc shape, and it's grey and it's undulating around the edges going in and out... And can you move that? Progressing
Yeah, I think I can.  
And where can you move it to? Progressing
I just want to throw it away. DESIRED OUTCOME
Can you move it outside your body? Progressing
Mmmm [agrees]  
And where is it now? Progressing
It's moved up into my chest a bit.  
Uhuh... Can you move it outside your body? Progressing
Just breathing it out.  
Ok, so you are breathing it out... that's good... so its moved up your chest and you are breathing it out.... And is it out now? Progressing
And where is it now? Progressing
It's just spreading out into the room.  
It's spreading out into the room.... And as it spreads out into the room... what happens to it? Progressing
It's this grey mist.  
Grey mist.  
And what would you like to have happen to this grey mist? Progressing
It's just dissipating.  
Just dissipating.  
And what happens next? Progressing
I have send the LIGHT down to where it was. Resource
You are sending the LIGHT down to where it was....And then what? Progressing
.... [sigh] It feels OK. OUTCOME ACHIEVED
It feels OK.  
And feels OK. So the grey mist has dissipated and that disc has gone and the light is on all the time and the light is down there... And are you strong enough to be yourself? Testing Pre-requisite
Yeah [firmly]  
And are you strong enough to be yourself and be MORE PEACEFUL and be VISIBLE.... Testing Asset and Fear
....and get your share and not miss out.... Testing Fear
I would like you to imagine you are at work... and there's a big tea being laid on.... a celebration of some sort... and there is wine... and there are biscuits and sandwiches and cakes and muffins and buns... and there's all sorts of gooey things... and you go into the room... and you look at this... and how do you feel? Testing Problem Situation
Mmmm... happy.  
And happy... and do you feel any need to ... take more than your share? Testing fear
And do you feel that this opportunity might not come again? Testing fear
And so ... do you feel in control? Testing fear
And just look around inside yourself....is there anything that... there that needs to be dealt with? Checking
No, it all feels really good.  
And it all feels pretty good.....and you can see that LIGHT.. Testing Resource
And its bright and constant... and it's warm... Confirmation
.... and comfortable.... and does that mean that you are warm and comfortable? Confirmation
Does that mean that you are strong...? Confirmation
And peaceful? Confirmation
And you feel OK about yourself? Confirmation
And is there anything else you need? Confirmation
OK, I would like you to go back to that very first feeling you had... and see if it is still there... CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
The first one?  
The first feeling.  
Has it gone? Checking
Do you get the feeling it's gone for ever? Checking
Could be, yeah.  
Just check. Checking
Feels like it might come back. FEAR
So that feels like it might come back.... what does that feeling look like? Elaborating
It feels like it might come out of my neck. Somatic response, not imagery.
Uhuh. It could come out of your neck.... and what else about feeling that it might come out of your neck? Elaborating
It's like a really bad ghost.  
Uhuh. Elaborating
That can reform.  
Uhuh... like a bad ghost that can reform in your neck. Consolidating
And whereabouts in the neck? Elaborating
In the back of my neck.  
At the back of the neck. Elaborating
Just feels really tense... anxious...  
What else about this ghost? This bad ghost? Elaborating
Well, I'm scared of it. FEAR
Scared of it. Elaborating
And I don't want it to notice me. And I am safe while it is out there... looking at other things...  
So there's a bad ghost that is associated with the back of your neck...it's tense and anxious there... and you are scared of it... and you don't want it to notice you.... and you are safe while it is out there looking at other things.... What would you like to have happen to this bad ghost? Progressing
Burn up. So you would like this ghost to burn up.  
Can the ghost burn up? Progressing
And so how would that ghost get burned up? Progressing
It's a nice warm fire... would burn it up. Resource appears
A nice warm fire would burn it up..... and so does that nice warm fire burn it up? Progressing
It's working on it.  
It's working on it. Progressing
.... [long silence] .... feels like its going....  
And it feels like it is going....  
What will happen when it is gone? Progressing
My neck will relax.  
Your neck will relax.... and so what is happening with the bad ghost and the warm fire? Progressing
It's nearly gone.  
It's nearly gone.  
The LIGHT can replace that one as well. Resource
The light can replace that one as well..  
It feels like it is gone now. OUTCOME ACHIEVED
And it feels like it is gone now... And what does neck feel like now that bad ghost has gone? Testing
It feels good... it feels loose now.  
It feels good ....So neck is loose and is relaxed... So how do you feel now that the light is on and the bad ghost is gone? Testing
I feel really good.  
How does your neck feel? Testing
It feels good.  
And how does you tummy feel? Testing
It feels good. It's comfortable.  
And just look around yourself... is there anything else that needs to be dealt with? Testing
No, the rest is good.  
And you feel this is... permanent? Testing
That's good. So now go back to the feeling and see if you can still get that one you started with..... CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
No, it's not coming back.  
It's not coming back. And do you get the feeling that it is gone forever? Testing
And how does that make you feel? Testing
Ah... it feels great.  
That's good.  
So that feeling has gone forever? Testing
And when you think about food now... how do you feel? Testing
It's just food.  
Just food.... and does it feel different? Testing
So now are you strong? Strong enough to be yourself? Testing Prerequisite
Strong enough to get visible? Testing Fear
And not get missed out? Testing Fear
And get your share of everything? Testing Fear
That's good.  
And now just go back and make sure that first feeling is completely gone. CHECKING ORIGINAL PROBLEM
That's good. .... There's one last thing you need to do.... I want you to go inside yourself and just issue a telegram of gratitude... thankfulness... to your own unconscious mind for having kept you safe for so long. For having looked after you ...and for letting you become strong... letting you become strong enough to be yourself now ... and just feel that gratitude coming back and washing over you.... And just really feel the change in yourself.... That's good.... Just let me know when you have done that. Reinforcing change to the unconscious
Thank you.