The Queen of Wonderland logo

The Queen of Wonderland

copyright 2011 through 2014
by
Malcolm Timbers

Update: 6 April 2014:

. . . . After having discovered the missing piece of the anorexia puzzle in mid-December, I have been spending the remainder of the winter doing research on that phenomenon. I started working on writing the chapter on this missing piece of the anorexia puzzle on the 15th of March and it is now finished. It was difficult to write because of the mind bending paradoxical nature of the subject matter. It is far more desirable to simply believe that genetics or modern fashion causes anorexia nervosa since it is easy to implicate them. My work does not focus on the cause of anorexia because there are too many variables that can complicate the cause. Instead, my work centres upon the mythology behind the anorexia nervosa syndrome. Armed with this information, a competent analyst can effectively tailor the therapeutic approach for each individual patient. My original purpose for writing The Queen of Wonderland was to show that the same inspiration that causes an individual to become entangled in a fantasy that can take over her life with self-destructive tendencies is basically the same sort of inspiration that inspires creative individuals to produce Gothic fantasy stories involving a theme of tragic romanticism. The purpose of analysing Gothic fantasy stories is that one might gain a better understanding of what anorexia nervosa is about. It took me a very long time to finally discover the missing piece of the anorexia nervosa puzzle in Gothic fantasy stories because there is an inherent mental block against seeing this sort of thing. Both Gothic fantasies and the delusions of anorexics involve many variations on the theme of tragic romanticism. I am back at working on the index for the book, which is difficult because of the paradoxical nature of the subject matter. The Queen of Wonderland will explain what anorexia nervosa is in itself and this understanding will make it easier to treat. Hopefully I will be finished in a couple of months.

. . . I updated the text of the book with references to the myth that was previously missing from the text. I haven't made many alterations in the present text. I added a new chapter to the book to adequately explain how this previously missing mythology relates to anorexia nervosa. The main mythological theme behind anorexia nervosa is the heroine’s descent into the underworld, but there is something missing from that mythology that I discovered in another mythological theme, which is not unrelated to the myth of the descent.

. . . . My understanding of anorexia nervosa has increased a lot during the past year. Consequently, much of what is written on the remainder of this web page is old material. I have updated it in January, since it will have some meaning for individuals wanting to learn about anorexia nervosa. But it is obsolete information in relationship to The Queen of Wonderland book project.

. . . Presently, the most relevant information on anorexia nervosa in terms of Analytical Psychology is contained on 2 of my web pages:

Preface to The Queen of Wonderland:

Preface to The Queen of Wonderland


T preface describes what the book is actually about, which is very different from the information posted on this page.

. . . My blog contain the most up to date information about my book project.

Blog for The Queen of Wonderland:

Blog site for The Queen of Wonderland:


Subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog site to keep updated about this project.

. . . I am keeping the remainder of the text on this web page because it is already indexed by the search engines. I have recently updated it to make it currently relevant.
End of current update for 3 January 2014.

Update: 12 November, 2013
. . . . I have updated the preface for the book today. I have made some changes to the update I posted in March of this year.
. . . . Although I have the text of the book more or less completed, I am still working on the references and index. I also said that very same thing last March, but, in the meantime, I have made some important revisions based upon feedback from people who have read part of the book. I have found that how most people interpret what they read is based upon what they were taught to believe. And what people are taught to believe about Gothic fantasies and problems like anorexia nervosa are basically wrong. Therefore most people have a difficult time understanding my book simply because everything they learned and believe is being challenged. Gothic fantasies and self-harm are paradoxes. And while it is possible to interpret either in a literal context, such interpretations do not explain what these phenomena are in themselves. Most modern art and enchanting fantasy is inspired by the psyche. That is, modern art, Gothic fantasies and anorexia nervosa are not consciously deliberated. Instead, they are inspired by a psychic factor that is reacting to something that is disturbing in the cultural environment.
. . . Scientists do not know what anorexia nervosa is in itself, nor can any of their explanations explain why anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or cutting suddenly became an epidemic 30 or so years ago. The Queen of Wonderland explains what anorexia nervosa is in itself. Self-harm is a complicated problem that is caused by the frustration of the psychic process involved in the normal development of the mind. I have been working on an easier way to understand this problem by way of understanding the metaphors that appear in the fantasy stories that symbolically portray developmental problems.
. . . Every mental disorder has an underlying mythological fantasy behind it that takes hold of the mind. Anorexic symptoms basically mime the nature of the developmental problem that is taking place in the individual's psychic background. The Queen of Wonderland explores the themes and metaphors in those Gothic fantasy stories that have become hugely popular with children and adolescents for the purpose of analysing and interpreting the metaphors contained in them in order to illustrate what anorexia nervosa is in itself. Both anorexia nervosa and those popular Gothic stories of tragic romanticism have been inspired by a psychic reaction to decadent cultural influences. Consequently, anorexics and other self-harming individuals would be viewed as troublemakers if the cause of their malady were to be made known. So long as nobody has a clue as to the meaning behind anorexia nervosa or Gothic fantasy stories that symbolically represent the problems that adolescents are experiencing everybody remains blissfully contented.

Update: Sunday October 23, 2011
I have recently posted a new essay on my blog, link below, titled: "Anorexia Nervosa as Art"
The Queen of Wonderland project draws a parallel between Gothic fantasies such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the fantasies that transpire in the psychic background of self-harming individuals in order to paint a picture of self-harm by way of analogies, e.g., the heroine/adolescent who is, as if, chosen by fate to struggle against the demons of anorexia nervosa or some other form of self-harm.

On the first of July I have created a name for the book’s publishing business. The name of the business is Fairy Moon Publishing.
The reason for choosing this name is that the mythology of the moon factors in as one of the dominant mythologcal themes in anorectic fantasies.

I have published the Preface to The Queen of Wonderland that describes what the book is actually about, which is very different than the information posted on this page.
This page represents the initial research and ideas that went into developing the ideas behind The Queen of Wonderland book.

I added a blog with more information and a place where visitors could comment on this project at:

Visit my blog site for The Queen of Wonderland and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep updated about this project.

website security

Visit The Art of Tragedy blog site for a more complex analysis of Gothic themes. Update 12 Nov. 2013: I am sorry that I have been too busy working on the index and reference list for the book that I have not been able to keep The Art of Tragedy blog up to date.

Alice’s Maddening Adventures in an Anorectic Wonderland

12 November 2013:
. . . . I have made some revisions and corrections to an update originally made on 8 October 2009.
. . . . This revision replaces a series of updates that I posted on this site over the past two years about the status of my book project on self-harm, The Queen of Wonderland. What I have written here is old but useful information. The contents of the book are much different than what I had written here many years ago.p>

{1} . . . This project began during the winter of 2006 after having chance discovered a curious mythological theme that set the mood, and influences the background thinking in self-destructive disorders. In this instance, I am not referring the mood of depression that affects the conscious mind, but a mysterious unconscious mood hidden in the background of the psyche that can influence a vulnerable individual in a bizarre fashion. In the beginning phase of research I was searching for supportive material to illustrate how, why, and where this curious melancholic attitude, mythology and mood became manifested in our culture, i.e., in places like art, literature and film. I needed this material in order to understand the phenomenon of melancholy in a way that I could write a book based upon how melancholy becomes manifested in self-harming behaviour. Unfortunately, up until the winter/spring of 2009 my writing kept getting detoured by my tendency to get lost in a mind bending form of psychology about the nature of the psyche because I lacked a sufficient amount of supportive modern mythological material to write about the problem in a way that would be highly intriguing to a general audience. As it turned out, this material was hiding right in front of me, but I couldn’t see it for what it was saying in metaphorical terms. It took a lot of research and analytical work to even begin to comprehend the paradoxical metaphors portrayed in this material. The material I was working with was mostly Gothic fantasies because they portray the sort of melancholic mood of tragic romanticism that can be found in the attitude of individuals who suffer from self-harming compulsions. Slowly, very slowly, a clearer picture of the problem of self-harm emerged out of this research and analysis.

{2} . . . The psychological idiom that I was originally writing in is somewhat esoteric, dealing as it does with the shady psychic background. The mythological nature of the psychic background is generally avoided by conventional theorists because the psyche’s notoriously mercurial nature is full of irony and mind bending paradoxes. Nonetheless, self-harming behaviour cannot be understood from the perspective of conventional psychology because it focusses its attention on the patient’s symptoms, e.g., stuff that appears on the surface, while ignoring the deeper mercurial source of the patient’s symptoms. Hence, a more easily understood method of describing the psyche’s destructive influence upon anorexics and cutters needed to be developed, which was the original intention of this project. Because the psyche uses the language of fantasy rather than scientific language, I am going to be writing in a quasi-fantasy style. That is, I am going to be treating things like fairyland, fairies and demons as if they were real. While cynics and scientists will be repulsed by this sort of language, I am really only interested in communicating to intelligent individuals who possess a creative imagination.

{3} . . . Conventional psychology typically describes self-harming symptoms in an assortment of ways that implies that they understand the nature of this form of behaviour, and that the problem lies with the patient’s attitude. In actually, they understand almost nothing about what is transpiring in the realm of the psychic background, which exists in a magical kingdom beyond the borderline of the ego’s realm of untoward symptoms. Even the renowned researcher, Hilde Bruch (1985, p.8) stated that she was astounded by the amount of theoretical assumptions about eating disorders that were being presented as if they represented scientific fact. The theoretical descriptions of anorexia nervosa that are provided by conventional psychology are a lot like the old assumption that suggests that by merely naming something, one understands it, when, in fact, all one has done was attach a label in order to classify a phenomenon according to its observable symptoms. Then they attach an assortment of assumptions to the classification that are based upon Freud’s old theories about infantile sexuality and Adler’s theory about self-empowerment. We assume that when one is talking about a phenomenon that the individual understands what he is talking about, when, in fact, all he is doing is trying to explain what he saw or what the patient told him, based upon preconceived theoretical assumptions. The patient who is vexed with the malady has almost no conscious comprehension about the underlying nature of her disorder because she is typically in a borderline state of mind that has almost no conscious awareness about what is transpiring on the other side of the border, i.e., in the psychic realm of dreams and fantasies that control her like an invisible puppeteer. Indeed, many researchers claim that anorexics seldom have fantasies when, in fact, anorexia nervosa is itself the fantasy — which is something that these researchers understand nothing about. My project, The Queen of Wonderland, proposes to explain the symbolic nature of this fantasy.

{4} . . . The introduction that I put together several years ago for this web site is mainly about the failure of conventional psychology to understand the psychology of self-harm. Although this introductory essay is still relevant, it does not reflect the actual nature of the book project as it stands now. The Queen of Wonderland book project will examine self-harming behaviour from the unique perspective of the metaphors contain in the popular genera of Gothic myth and fantasy that are symbolic manifestations of the same kind of influences that are behind self-harming behaviour.

{5} . . . For first several years of this project, I have been researching and writing about the archetypal aspect of the psychology of self-harming behaviour that is largely ignored by conventional psychology. Because my work in this specialized area is much too abstruse and boring for a general audience, I am returning to my original objective of exploring ancient and modern mythology in order to locate those cultural myths that embody the same archetypal symbolism and ideas that are the overriding influence behind anorexia nervosa and cutting. I will also be exploring some of the modern cultural influences that are behind the epidemic of self-harming behaviour that is sweeping through those regions of the world that are heavily influenced by modern technological realism. During the winter/spring of 2009, I discovered some hitherto unexplored material that allowed me to breathe new life into my original project, i.e., that of writing an interesting book that ordinary people could understand about the nature of self-harming behaviour without getting bogged down in boring and mind bending psychological explanations. Up until that point of discovery, I was beginning to get frustrated with the seeming paucity of suitable material that I could use to illustrate the symbolism behind self-harming behaviour. That is, until I discovered a cache of highly relevant material that was hidden in plain sight. As implausible as it may sound, I discovered that much of this symbolic material could be found in the tragic romanticism portrayed in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and the Twilight series.

{6} . . . Although I had already written a lengthy manuscript for the book based upon Jungian analytical psychology, I came to realize that no matter how much I try to simplify this material, it would be impossible to produce a book that would be understood by anyone who did not have a thorough understanding of Jungian psychology because of the complexity of self-harming behaviour. So, after having discovered a cache of popular material that illustrates the psychology of self-harming behaviour in a symbolic fashion, I was able to revive my original idea for this project, i.e., that of writing a book about mythology and fairytales and how they symbolically portray the enigmatic mood that is behind self-harming behaviour. I have spent the greater part of 2009 studying and analysing this material and cataloguing it in a database in order to be able to understand it well enough to put together a book that almost anyone could understand.

{7} . . . After reviewing this material, I was faced with writing a completely new manuscript for the project. In August of last year, I thought I had a final draft completed but after giving several copies to friends to look over, I began to have the feelings that I was missing something. Subsequent research turned up a whole lot of stuff that I needed to work into the text. As it turned out, I began to realize that one book would not be sufficient to do justice to the problem of self-harming behaviour. So I decided to focus upon analysing a limited number of Gothic fantasy stories for the first book. Subsequent volumes will explore more of these Gothic themes. At the time I had no ideas that it was going to take another whole year [at the time of this review, several more years] before I could complete the first book. I cannot afford to rush this project and risk having produced a book that does not come up to the demanding expectations of educated readers.

A Unique Perspective on Anorexia Nervosa and Cutting

{7} . . . This project is going to be somewhat unique in the literature about anorexia nervosa and cutting because it will mainly involve the exploration of material that has never been associated with self- harming behaviour before. I will be examining ancient and modern cultural material from different, and sometimes contradictory perspectives because no two people experience self-harming behaviour in the same way despite an archetypal core of meaning and purpose of the phenomenon. Most of the material that I will be drawing upon will be familiar motifs in fairytales, mythology, literature and film that are hidden right before our very eyes. In effect, I will simply be lifting the veil that hides its symbolic nature. I will, however, avoid, as much as possible, getting into discussing seriously controversial material in this project despite its relevancy simply because I have found that anything controversial can cause a mental block in some people that renders the whole work incomprehensible to them. Besides, I have succeeded in gathering together enough popular material to demonstrate a symbolic connection between it and self-harming behaviour, so that it is not necessary to delve into anything risque in this project. Okay, I lied! One of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes deals with the problem of child abuse, which is one of those risque subjects, and I just couldn't resist analysing the rich symbolism in that episode, i.e., season one, episode ten, Nightmares, which is far more complicated than you might imagine it to be.

{8} . . . At this point in time, I can only suggest that you bookmark this web site for future references, and go to my blog and subscribe to the RSS feed for occasional updates. I don’t update my blog very often, so you won’t be bothered by a lot of useless blather.

Contact information: For information about this project:

Malcolm Timbers
P.O. Box 2281
Blaine, WA
98231

About the Wonderland Theme

{9} . . . (Note: This was originally written in 2008 and I am revising it now, i.e., July, 2011, but not really changing much. The book itself does not follow the theme of this introduction. I have a chapter in the book about the Alice in Wonderland theme and the historical relevancy of that era in shaping modern thinking. Originally, I had intended to cast the Alice character in the role of a modern anorexic and portray her experience with the disorder in terms of an adventure in the twilight realm. However, because every individual experiences the disorder in a different way, it would be impossible to write something that would be believable by everyone who suffers from this malady. My present project involves explaining the metaphors contained in Gothic fantasies and how they relate to the phenomenon of self-harm. An explanation of the reason for choosing this way to explain the nature of self-harm is contained in the preface to the book, which I originally posted in my blog, but I will move to a web page on this site after I get it organized.)

{10} . . . The Wonderland theme was originally chosen as an introduction for this exploration into the fantasy realm of anorexia nervosa because in many ways Lewis Carroll’s account of Alice’s maddening adventures into a bizarre Wonderland is a suitable metaphor for how a modern anorexic Alice’s experience with her own quest for understanding in a culture that is indifferent to underlying nature of malady. Alice’s shrink, aka the Mad Hatter in our version, speculates that Alice is merely using her refusal to eat as a protest for all sorts of childish reasons that are way too numerous to even go into here. In reality, Alice isn’t refusing to eat at all. She can’t eat! She can’t eat because a malevolent fairy has cast a spell of enchantment on her in consequence of some silly foible committed against the elfin realm. Alice was chosen to struggle against the spirits of the lower realm because her sensitive nature made her vulnerable to the fairy’s influences while her intelligence offered the possibility that she could be made to understand the fairy’s concerns.

{11} . . . On the psychological front, our Alice theme character represents a confusing mix of two separate personalities that are separated by a restricted communication between her conscious mind and the psychic background of the unconscious. The unconscious is the unknown psychic background where dreams and fantasies originate and take place. Eating disorders originate in this psychic background owing to a conflict between the individual’s conscious attitude and some psychological factors that have become active in the psychic background. In a metaphorical sense of Gothic fantasies, these psychological factors are personified by demons and vampires. This project is going to avoid psychology as much as possible and attempt to explain anorexia nervosa in the metaphorical terms of fantasy because anorexia nervosa is a fantasy that represents the symbolic language of a meaningful developmental process that is transpiring in the psychic background of the mind. The more this fact is misunderstood by both Alice and the Mad Hatter, the more her experience will take on the character of a mad tea party rather than the heroine's adventurous quest for understanding.

{12} . . . The Alice character portrays two very different dimensions. In her conscious dimension, she is a child or a girl, suffering from anorexia nervosa. In her other dimension, the Alice character is the soul or the dream-personality who exists partly in the psychic background and partly in the conscious dimension. When this anorectic dream-complex is influencing consciousness it put Alice in a trance-like state. The dream-like complex is composed of more than Alice’s soul. It also includes, among other things, the archetype behind the voice that tells Alice that she is fat and ugly.

{13} . . . Sometimes this essay refers to “Alice” as a person with anorexia nervosa, and sometimes “Alice” refers to Alice as the dream-like personality in the fantasy-like land of the psychic background. Alice as a person is almost completely unaware of “Alice” as a dream-like personality who can also influence Alice’s thinking.

{14} . . . The confusing paradox of two Alice personalities can be clearly seen by the fact that when an anorexic is confronted with the facts about their medical condition, most anorexics will admit that they know they are dangerously underweight. Although Alice admits that her body is dangerously underweight, she feels absolutely compelled to say that she sees herself as being healthy but overweight. This makes anorexia nervosa appear as if it was nothing more than a charade, but it isn’t, at least not from a proper clinical perspective.

{15} . . . Alice hasn’t got a clue why she is compelled to believe something that she knows is obviously wrong except that some unconscious power seizes her with an overriding compulsion to identify with an anorectic persona. Because Alice is under a spell of enchantment cast upon her by a malevolent fairy, she will compulsively deny that she is underweight, thus undoing her insight into her condition.

{16} . . . This web site must be carefully read with this paradoxical duality of the anorexic in mind, otherwise it is impossible to understand the ironic nature of eating disorders and cutting. It should also be noted that the model for the mind that I am using is based upon Jungian psychology, which encompasses a more complex view of the mind than that which is generally taught by conventional psychology. Although Jung's concept of archetypes may be unfamiliar to some readers, I am trying to avoid using what might appear to a lot of people as psychobabble. Very simply put, an archetype is like an instinct except that it includes feelings and the ability to form dream-like images. One might say that an archetype represents the spiritual aspect of an instinct. Another way of looking at archetypes is that they represent the manifestations of how the psyche’s translation of genetic code into a matrix for the creation of ideas and images.

{17} . . . This book is being written for the purpose of helping individuals who are plagued by self-destructive compulsions understand the underlying psychology behind their compulsions. Entrenched anorexia nervosa cannot be cured without this understanding. Yet, the psychological authorities are not interested in helping an anorexic understand the underlying nature of her malady beyond some antiquated Freudian theories based upon infantile sexuality. A particular type of theoretical mentality wrongly assumed that the sexual revolution of the 1960s was going to put an end to all neurotic disorders. Despite the fact that an epidemic of self-destructive broke out right after the sexual revolution became realized, this type of person still believes that opening up the culture to sex and violence will make neurotic disorders disappear. Despite the failure of conventional psychology to understand the cause of anorexia nervosa the authorities are only interested in finding ways to make the anorexic give up her quest for understanding and, instead, conform to the acceptable belief system, i.e., accept, expressing one's self in terms of, and adapt to the cultural themes of sex and violence that are seductively expressed in the form of entertainment, i.e., nihilistic music, vulgar language, movies etc.

Prelude to Alice’s Curious Adventures in a Maddening Anorectic Wonderland

{17} . . . Lewis Carroll’s Alice had only one wonderland to contend with, which meant that she could return to the safety of her normal world if things got out of hand during her mad fantasy adventure. However, when Alice was recast to play the role of a girl suffering from anorexia nervosa in our modern world, she found herself being confronted on both sides with incomprehensible wonderlands. In her ordinary life, she conformed to the modern day technological wonderland that is, in some bizarre ways, in conflict with her soul. On the other side of reality, Alice’s soul or dream-personality got caught up in an even madder adventure in an anorectic version of a fantasy Wonderland that is in consequences of this unknown inner conflict. Our modern day Alice is unaware that the bizarre nature of her anorectic malady is the result of a conflict that is brewing in the psychic background of her mind and her therapist is none the wiser.

{18} . . . Alice was always a cheerful and imaginative child who sometimes got carried away by enchanting fantasies whenever things became disagreeable to her. Unknown to Alice is a serious conflict that is going on in her psychic background. As a consequence of this conflict, she is faced with the prospects of not being able to find any true happiness as an adult. Faced with these difficulties, she finds herself slipping through the veil of time and space into her otherworldly reveries more and more often these days.

{19} . . . To Alice’s dismay, her reveries have been taking on a bizarre life of their own that are quite apart from her intentions. Lewis Carroll’s Alice liked to entertain the fantasy of becoming a Queen in her fantasies and our contemporary Alice is still entertaining the notion that she will somehow be able to attain some sort of mastery over her life even if it means living in a fantasy that is incomprehensible to everyone including herself.

{20} . . . One evening when Alice was in a twilight frame of mind, she managed to slip through the silvery veil of her looking-glass into a dreamlike fantasy that seemed to her to be a curious parody upon the real world. While in this twilight looking-glass state of mind, she suddenly had the feeling that everything in her real world was also being twisted around backwards in a confusing sort of way. Despite all the wonders of the modern technological wonderland, Alice unexpectedly began to develop an underlying sense of alienation, which made the real world seem as if it wasn’t so real anymore.

{21} . . . As Alice’s anorexia nervosa developed, she found it increasingly difficult to fit into her milieu. Because of her sense of alienation, Alice developed a strange sense that her body was getting too big and awkward to easily slip through the veil of twilight consciousness into the secret garden of her reveries. As a result of her frustration, she decided to go on a diet. Then it happened; just when Alice thought that she was gaining some control over things with her fantasizing that she discovered that her situation can easily get out of control in a most bizarre fashion. Alice doesn’t understand how her life wound up in such a dreadful situation. Not knowing what else to do, she sought counsel about the bizarre turn of events in her fantasies but nobody in the official version of the real world seems to understand how or why her life suddenly turned into a bizarre paradox.

{22} . . . Life for human beings has always been experienced as a fantasy and it was only with the discovery of a scientific method that mankind managed to get a clearer view the material situation. However, the scientific method that is used to understand material reality isn’t very helpful for trying to understand the psychological dimension of the human experience. Consequently, modern man is still subjected to the vagaries of his collection of fantasized beliefs regarding his own reality. Nonetheless, mankind bases his perception of his own reality upon a form of scientific materialism that is nothing more than a sophisticated fantasy while disregarding the reality of his psychic life.

{23} . . . We are defined by whatever reality is conjured up by our beliefs. This so-called reality usually emerges in conformity to the general belief system of the society in which we were raised. However, in some ways, because of personality differences, every individual fabricates his or her own personal version of this reality. This is accomplished in a way that an instinct for conformity integrates an individual’s personal fantasy in conformity with society’s fantasies. Alice is an imaginative individual who has the creative ability to create an enchanting reality/fantasy for herself. However, some of the popular beliefs that she conformed to and wove into her fantasy unknowingly conflicted with her inner human nature. As a result, the Wonderland that she had created for herself started to go awry in a bizarre way as a consequence of having unknowingly aroused the wrath of a malevolent fairy.

{24} . . . Like Alice’s maddening adventure in Wonderland, all the officially acceptable theories that have been fabricated to explain anorexia nervosa over the past forty or so years present us with a very confusing picture, with no clear theory about the malady emerging out of the disarray. Because modern psychology is based upon society’s belief system, it is largely a fantasy construct in its own right. This is because modern society’s belief system perforce ignores what is transpiring in the self-destructive individual’s unconscious. Clues as to what is transpiring in the unconscious realm can be found in Alice’s symptoms, but this is only relevant if a researcher understands the symbolic meaning behind her symptoms. However, most schools of psychology interpret her symptoms literally. Moreover, they are perforce obligated to make their theories conforms to society’s fantasy belief system. Despite self-proclaiming that their theories are based upon well-founded scientific theories, they are really only dealing with their own projected fantasies about reality. Hence, they don’t have much of a clue about what they are actually dealing with. Because the psychological authorities are uncomfortably aware of this fact, they can be very testy over the sort of criticism expressed on this web site.

{25} . . . While some schools of psychology claim that self-destructive behaviour is the result of having repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse, many others blame a dysfunctional family atmosphere for having caused anorexia nervosa in their daughter. Because there is no evidence pointing to family dysfunction or repressed sexual abuse in most cases of anorexia nervosa, some say that anorexia nervosa is a learned behaviour as the result of having been brainwashed by some aspect of society (Boskind-White and White, 2000, p.266), while others suggest that it is the result of a developmental deficit (Bruch). Levenkron (2001, p.12 - 13) simply put it down to a matter of a disease that is caused by fashionable trends. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatry Association (DSM-IV, 1994) emphasizes a distorted body image as one of the main features of anorexia nervosa, while Lee (2001, p.41) effectively challenges this theory.

{26} . . . The theory that suggests that a body dysmorphic disorder was a determining symptom, if not the cause of anorexia nervosa, was proven to be wrong — a non sequitur among Asian anorexics (Lee, 2001). Nonetheless, Western theorists still hang onto this silly notion with the same sort of tenacity that an anorexic hangs onto her own convictions. A so-called body dysmorphic disorder is a culturally modified symptom that symbolize something else — an unconscious archetypal condition. This can be partly explained by the fact that the word “mythology” is understood to mean that anything mythic is symbolic for something else — something unknown and more than likely related to an unconscious processes, not some egotistical concerns. By way of the backwards thinking process of looking-glass psychology it was thought that a distorted body image was the result of the influence of the fashion industry and this gave rise to anorexia nervosa in individuals who possessed a gene that predisposed them to developing a body dysmorphic disorder which lead to anorexia nervosa. As logical as that may sound, it is all wrong because the so-called body image distortion is symbolic for something else, which will be explained in the book.

{27} . . . For a long time I have been struggling with trying to explain why this and many of the other official explanations for self-destructive behaviour are psychologically unsound. However, every time I tried to examine their delusively sophisticated explanations, I wound up in a maddening conundrum as if my thinking was being turned around backwards in the reflection of some sort of queer looking-glass realm. So I sat down the other day and carefully analysed some of these facile explanations for self-destructive behaviour. Thinking about this conundrum was like receiving an invitation to some sort of bizarre pathological party.

An Invitation to a Mad Tea Party

{28} . . . After having made an outline (2008) of the pseudo-scientific process of divining a plausible explanation for a disorder, I was utterly stupefied to discover the sort of things that these theorists are trying to say with their psychobabble. What they are trying to tell us with their words of grave importance and luxurious quantity is that the symptoms are either the cause or contribute to causing a predisposition for developing anorexia nervosa; that the anorexic’s bizarre thinking and behaviour are the cause of the anorexia nervosa; that the anorexic’s desperate compulsion to conform to society’s confusing norms and fashion is the cause of the anorexic’s bizarre compulsions; that resistance is futile and that she needs to become assimilated by the collective, etc., etc., etc. Then a few clang words like “genes” and “chemical imbalance” are tossed about for effect. This divining process is some sort of circular argument that goes around and around while carefully avoiding, by way of a mental block, understanding what anorexia nervosa is really about. The pronouncement as to the cause of anorexia is merely some sort of jumping off point determined by professional protocol. Alice was at this Mad Tea Party where the discussion kept going around and around the table, so that Alice eventually got up and left — frustrated because she sensed that she was being misunderstood and she felt like she was being treated condescendingly in the maddening process.

Picture of The Mad Tea Party
Alice, the rabbit (whose spectral voice inveigled Alice to follow
him down the rabbit hole into the underground) and the
Mad Hatter who was chosen to play the role of her therapist.

A Backwards Looking Glass View of the World

{29} . . . During this round-the-table discussion, they were trying to tell us that the anorexic’s fear of getting fat is the cause of her fear of her getting fat. They even imply that the gene theory about predispositions is something new when this was something that was understood a long time ago. The only thing new is that current gene research potentially possesses the technology to look for the exact gene that predisposes an individual to sink into a twilight state of mind. However, no gene theory is going to explain why self-destructive behaviour suddenly developed into an epidemic in modern times. Then without acknowledging the possibility of an unconscious influence, they suggestively imply that the anorexic’s beliefs have the magical power to override her common sense and the common sense of everybody else about the bizarre nature of her beliefs and behaviour. All this poppycock is a testament to the backwards thinking style of modern psychology that is determined to explain the mind in the terms of a doctrine of technologically inspired realism.

{30} . . . Ostensibly, the cause of anorexia nervosa is everything that modern therapists have purported it to be — but this is only an entertaining sideshow. This sideshow is the result of interpreting the self-destructive individual’s subjective thoughts, feelings and experiences in a literal fashion even though the individual is in a twilight state of unconsciousness that is overriding her consciousness with fantasies — or in the admitted terms of modern psychology, she is in a state of delusional thinking. In other words, even though they realize that her thoughts and feelings regarding her self-destructive behaviour are delusional in their terms, they treat her thoughts and feelings as if they were literal facts as far as determining symptoms and causal factors.

{31} . . . Now some of the pieces of the puzzling conundrum are coming together. On the one hand, modern therapists treat her anorectic thoughts and feelings as if they were literal facts when determining the symptoms and causes of anorexia nervosa. However, when they are treating her in therapy, they treat her anorectic thoughts and feelings as if they were magical thinking, lies and delusions. While this may seem to be the logical thing to do, Jungian psychology regards this to be a backwards looking glass approach to understanding self-destructive behaviour.

{32} . . . Jungian psychology regards her symptoms to be a manifestation of an archetypal pattern of responses to whatever is provoking the unconscious to react. Although archetypes manifest themselves in conformity to the cultural and the individual’s characteristics, they also produce a paradoxical pattern of responses that make up the underlying universal symptoms of self-destructive compulsions. The anorectic symptoms have no literal meaning in a cultural context nor are they literally related to the cause of the disorder. As an example, the much touted marker symptom for anorexia nervosa was wrongly believed by the American Psychiatry Association (DSM-IV, 1994) to be a distorted body image. But the anorexic’s distorted body image has absolutely nothing to do with the actual body image whatsoever except as a symbol for something else that the psychic process is aiming at — something that will be explored in length in the book, but not here because of its complexity.

{33} . . . The symbolic meaning of a distorted body image seems to be unknown before the conception of this work and this will be explored throughout the book. Consequently conventional psychology wrongly interpreted, in a literal fashion, the statements made about the disorder by anorexics and wound up with a confusing array of erroneous theories. It was all too easy to interpret anorexia nervosa in terms of a distorted body image disorder in the context of the painted and digitally enhanced images of fashion models in women’s magazines. Now that anorexia nervosa is showing up in exotic places like Japan, Korea, Singapore and China where people are slim by Western standards and there is no culture of dieting [when anorexia nervosa first began showing up in these cultures], the distorted-body-image theory is suddenly found itself in a serious dilemma. This isn’t to say that the body image phenomenon is without meaning. It’s just that its meaning lies elsewhere.

{34} . . . The reason for the confusion over the body image phenomenon is that the unconscious tailors the symptoms of compulsive disorders to fit both the cultural context and the individual’s personality. Consequently, any theory that is based upon a literal interpretation of a self-destructive individual’s statements about her symptoms is going to be a superficial construct that paints a deceptively convincing picture of the problem that is based solely upon cultural and personal idiosyncrasies. Since this picture is a misleading explanation that hides the underlying problem, nobody understands the actual nature the disorder.

{35} . . . While conventional psychology interprets the anorexic statements in a literal fashion when trying to determine the symptoms and the cause of the disorder, in therapy they treat her anorectic statements as if they were delusional. While conventional therapy regards the anorexic to be delusional, Jungian psychology trusts that the anorexic is not delusional, but that her convictions possess a symbolic meaning that needs to be interpreted in the proper context. The individual who is suffering from anorectic beliefs needs to understand the symbolic meaning of the unconscious fantasies in order to effect a transformation of her personality.

{36} . . . While conventional psychology treats anorexia nervosa in a rational fashion, Jungian psychology treats anorexia nervosa as an irrational reaction coming from the unconscious that is purely symbolic in nature. Hence, the only way to understand something as bizarre as self-destructive behaviour is to understand the symbolic language of the unconscious. Because unconscious symbolism is mercurial in nature, it cannot be simply put down in a dictionary of symbols. Hence the interpretation of the products of the unconscious is both an art and a science, both irrational and rational at the same time. Mixing art with science is something that is considered to be heresy in our technologically oriented society where all disordered are believed to have a rational cause such as a defective gene, a brain chemical imbalance or peer pressure to attain fashionable perfection that can result in a so-called body dysmorphic disorder.

{37} . . . The actual cause of anorexia nervosa is an archetypal influence that is overriding the individual’s thinking with anorectic mythology, so that her anorectic thoughts and feelings are symbolic of something unknown and unrelated to her subjective consciousness. In other words, Alice hasn’t got a clue as to the cause of her disorder. When understood symbolically, her dreams and fantasies are far more relevant to her anorectic condition than her subjective thoughts are. In other words, Alice needs help in interpreting her dreams and fantasies, but not the sort of “help” she’d get from a conventionally trained therapist, for he would only interpret her fantasies in terms of his faulty training.

{38} . . . In actuality, the literal interpretations of her subjective thoughts are a red herring that has the whole psychiatric community going around in circles like a dog chasing its own tail. It seems that after more than a hundred years of psychoanalytical dogmatism, nothing has changed in the official version of psychology when a newborn infant’s mind was regarded as nothing more than a blank slate upon which his parents and society’s education system had the privilege of inscribing the child’s character and fate. Since the child’s mind is largely thought of in terms of a blank slate that is wired to some biological impulses at birth, they attribute the cause of self-destructive behaviour to the child having learned this perverse sort of behaviour from some bad influences in her milieu, e.g., developing a body dysmorphic disorder as a consequences of looking a pictures of models in fashion magazines and then deciding to starve herself to excess in order to become fashionably relevant.

{39} . . . Unofficially, the actual cause of anorectic symptoms is a negatively constellated unconscious factor that has the power to override her conscious thinking and impose an alien personality upon her. The authorities don’t want to have to deal with the unconscious factor because it possesses an uncanny spiritual aura about its influence. Modern psychology cannot deal with the irrational nature of the unconscious because of the psyche’s habit of creating a bizarre sort of actuality that cannot be explained by the official world view of reality. So they simply leave out the source of her bizarre thinking and behaviour and blame her bizarre thinking and behaviour on having been brainwashed by some sort of bogeymen in the media. Ironically, this is more or less true except for the fact that the theorists are pointing their finger at the wrong bogyman.

{40} . . . The unconscious tailors its fantasy productions to conform to the individual’s character and her cultural setting. Consequently, the symptoms that appear in one individual, culture and historical setting will be different than those that appear in a different individual and her historical time and place. Because of this customizing factor, rationalized theories can easily wind up seriously misleading people as to the cause of the anorexic’s bizarre thinking. Although blaming the cause of the disorder upon a complex of symptoms, that the unconscious has tailored to fit a cultural context, has become a profitable and entertaining looking-glass side show, it leaves many anorexics with a lifetime of suffering and being misunderstood.

Introduction to the Problem Surrounding the Cause of Self-Harm

{41} . . . Despite all the attempts to explain self-harming behaviour in rational terms, self-harm remains an enigmatic riddle for which there is no valid rational explanation. The bizarre thinking behind self-harming behaviour can only be correctly understood in terms of being a symbolic unconscious dream-like process that is influencing consciousness. All those rationalized explanations about self-harming behaviour you’ve been reading about are largely meaningless nonsense because they are based upon the assumption that the self-harming individual is, in one way, personally responsible for her bizarre thinking and, in another way, a victim of fashion trends.

{42} . . . Modern psychoanalytical theory still regards self-harming behaviour as being the result of the subject’s refusal to accept a mature role in life and her persistent clinging to childish expectations and using “magical thinking” to fabricate a fictional “reality” around her childish lifestyle. In some ways this is more or less true, but it misses the underlying meaning and purpose of this fantasy. Other theories use a sociological model that claims that she was simply brainwashed or that her family is dysfunctional. In their looking-glass wisdom, where everything is backwards, modern psychologists fail to realize the fact that immaturity, or symptoms of having been brainwashed by a bogeyman are explained by the fact that a psychological disturbance always causes regressive infantile tendencies in the individual that also affects her relationship with every family member. Moreover, psychological disturbances brew in the unconscious a long time before they manifest themselves in the form of noticeable symptoms and this phenomenon can set up the family situation to make it look, in a looking-glass fashion, as if a dysfunctional family is the prime cause of the disorder instead of being a symptom. There again, this does not discount the family's a role in the disorder. More often than not the family is unknowingly acting as an agent for the disturbing trends in the society. That is, her parents have likely conformed to ideals that conflict with the child’s genetically determined developmental process.

{43} . . . Another facile explanation for anorexia nervosa claims that it is caused by the modern fashion industry’s promotion of thin models. This assumption ignores the fact that there has been a trend of using ultra thin models during the 1920s — long before the outbreak of a widespread epidemic of eating disorders. Because the fashion industry is the only highly visible representative of a much larger and complicated sociological phenomenon, it has become the whipping boy for many of modern society’s bad influences. Like anorexia nervosa itself, the bizarre nature of modern fashion is a symbolic statement about our modern culture — a symptom, not the cause. In the postmodern style of industrial fashion, anorexia nervosa is like a work of Gothic art that expresses the tragic nature of a life that finds itself forced by convention to fit into the constricting style of technological realism.

{44} . . . Like anorexia nervosa itself, the bizarre nature of modern fashion is a symptomatic statement about the modern technological attitude toward life, not the cause of anorexia nervosa. However, it is a symptom that helps to inspire an epidemic of other symptoms, so the fashion industry aids in reinforcing the anorectic standpoint. Nonetheless, the facile explanations about fashion cannot explain bulimia nervosa, obesity or cutting, so that more and more explanations have to be conjured up in the frantic manner of the sorcerer’s apprentice. There has also been a case of anorexia nervosa where the victim was blind from birth, which suggests that the theories about a body dysmorphic image and fashion are nothing but theoretical nonsense. None of these rationalized explanations for anorexia nervosa can do any justice whatsoever to the irrational nature of the disorder. This present work is an exploration into the hitherto unknown irrational dream-like fantasy that takes place in the background of the self-harming individual’s psyche, not just anorexics, and produces the overriding bizarre thoughts and behaviour that self-harming individuals experience. The book explains the psychological meaning and purpose of this negatively constellated unconscious fantasy.

{45} . . . Most theorists produce theories about a disorder that are based upon fairly common experiences shared by many patients. Although this is a perfectly logical thing to do, it is misleading and creates the delusion that the symptoms of self-harming behaviour are the cause of self-harming behaviour. Most of the time, a patient’s personal experiences and subjective thoughts are misleading because they have been unconsciously influenced by the symbolic language of the disorder even when they appear to be perfectly rational. The unconscious has a purpose when it tailors its disordered influences to conform to the individual’s personality and the cultural setting. For example, in the West, most of the time, an anorexic will say that she sees a fat body in the mirror, but anorexics in the Far East do not say that they see a fat body being reflected in the mirror unless they have been influenced by the Western model for anorexia nervosa. The reason for this difference is cultural.

{46} . . . There is a culture of obesity and dieting in the West but not in the Far East (although this may be changing because of Western influences). This fact suggests that the theory that presupposes that anorexia nervosa is caused by a body dysmorphic disorder is a misleading theory that merely goes around in a circular fashion by saying, in a convoluted fashion, that a body dysmorphic disorder is a symptom or a cause of a body dysmorphic disorder, i.e., anorexia nervosa. In other words, the phrase “body dysmorphic disorder” is used as psychobabble to hide the fact that it is universally felt to be taboo to understand the unconscious, aka spiritual, factors involved in a psychological problem. The phrase “body dysmorphic disorder” is used as psychobabble to express a pseudo-understanding about a profound dissatisfaction with the body. Ascetics have been abusing the body for thousands of years, and their purpose in doing so has been stated over and over in religious texts.

{47} . . . Because the unconscious tailors its bizarre ideas to conform to something in the cultural setting, rationalized theories can easily wind up seriously misleading people as to the cause of the anorexic’s bizarre thinking. For example, in the cultural setting of the Middle Ages, anorexia nervosa took on the form of a penitent’s work of redemption and as a sign of saintliness. Moreover, fat was hardly ever an issue in the Middle Ages because people had a hard time just getting enough to eat. Ignoring the historical evidence and cultural factors, modern “biomedical discourse has attributed anorexic subjects’ food avoidance and emaciation solely to fat concern (Lee, 2001).” In contrast to this literal interpretation of anorexia nervosa, I will be exploring an explanation for self-harming behaviour that goes directly to the source, i.e., the unconscious, and I will also explain this bizarre behaviour in terms of a psychic process gone wrong.

{48} . . . Most anorexics will tell you, when confronted with the facts about their medical condition, that they know they are dangerously underweight. The typical anorexic will admit that her body is dangerously thin but she feels absolutely compelled to say that she sees herself as being overweight and healthy. Alice hasn’t got a clue why she is compelled to believe something that she knows is obviously wrong except that a malevolent fairy seizes her with an overriding compulsion to identify with an anorectic persona.

{49} . . . Because most anorexics will readily admit, when properly confronted with the facts, that they are underweight, they are not suffering from either a so-called body dysmorphic disorder or delusions. All self-harming individuals suffer from a tempestuous unconscious influence that is overriding their conscious thinking and almost completely obliterating their personality in the process. The patient is not consciously lying about her anorectic condition; an overriding unconscious factor that functions as if it were a malevolent fairy is producing the delusions, defensiveness and bizarre behaviour that are symptomatic of anorexia nervosa.

{50} . . . What actually causes anorexia nervosa or any other form of self-harming compulsion is an unconscious influence whose peculiar influence is part of an unknown tragic dream-like scenario that is playing out in the self-harming individual’s unconscious. Jungian therapy involves an analytical process of discovering the unconscious dream-like structure that is behind a patient’s symptoms and then educating the patient about the symbolic meaning behind the dreamlike material. The interpretation of an individual’s dream or fantasy motifs may be different for each patient and this depends upon the individual’s unique situation and psychological makeup. However, there are universal features to these dreamlike scenarios that apply to all self-harming individuals, which my book, The Queen of Wonderland will explore in detail.

{52} . . . Up until the conception of this book, the influential dream-like fantasies that take place in the background of the self-harming individual’s unconscious that give rise to bizarre compulsions were largely unknown. As a consequence of this lack of understanding, nobody understood how to interpret the bizarre symptoms and other symbolic manifestations of anorexia nervosa. Consequently, the official schools of psychology posited all sorts of rationalized theories about anorexia nervosa that mostly dealt with superficialities.

{53} . . . The Queen of Wonderland represents an attempt to explain the symbolic meaning behind the enigma of self-harming behaviour in a manner that can be understood by the sincere and careful reader. It is an attempt to explain self-harming behaviour in terms of a psychic process that has simply gone awry. By understanding where the psychic process went awry, one can begin to find ways to put the psychic process back on track. Psychic processes are consciously experienced as fantasies that possess a symbolic meaning. This work deals directly with the sort of fantasy that is the basis of all human reality. Conventional theorists avoid dealing with the symbolic fantasies of human reality by regarding them as being mere delusions on the part of the patient.

{54} . . . The problem that most people will encounter while trying to understand this work will simply be that a concept that suggests that the unconscious is an independent intelligent entity capable of overriding conscious thought is something that is simply unacceptable to both themselves and the belief system that they adhere to. The basic concepts about the psychology of the unconscious are not something that is difficult to understand. The problem that one encounters when the individual is confronted with the realization that the unconscious is an autonomous and intelligent factor is that this realization is felt to be weird and insulting to the ego’s pride.

{55} . . . Basically, the psychology of the unconscious suggests that there are highly intelligent unconscious factors that can think on their own and these factors can influence one’s conscious thinking while giving the individual the impression that he thought up the ideas himself. This sort of thinking takes place at a much greater depth of the unconscious mind than what we generally think of when we encounter the word “unconscious” in the literature. People consider the notion of independent intelligent psychic factors as being a weird and insulting theory simply because most individuals want to think that they are the authors of all their own thoughts. The individual who is suffering from anorexia nervosa is not the author of her bizarre thoughts. Her anorectic thinking is something that is imposed upon her by a malevolent fairy, i.e., a negatively constellated unconscious factor that has the ability to manipulate her thinking and her feelings.

{56} . . . Realizing that you may not be the author of your all own thoughts and feelings is somewhat disempowering to the ego, which is especially insulting to the sort of authoritarian intellectuals who produce the rational explanations for anorexia nervosa. The self-harming individual is an individual who is vulnerable to being heavily influenced by overriding ideas and feelings emanating from the deeper part of the unconscious mind. The anorexic is under the delusion that she is controlling her unwanted impulses, but her mental state is under the control of other, more sinister unconscious forces that have placed an obstacle in her path, that of a mythological riddle that must be solved before she can be released from the Sphinx’s enchantment. That is, the mythological Sphinx is one of those malevolent fairies who inhabit the dreamscape of the psychic background.

{57} . . . In the book, I will be explaining the symbolic nature of the fantasies that take place in the self-harming individual’s unconscious that causes her to think and behave in a bizarre fashion. When interpreted symbolically, her bizarre thinking and behaviour can provide clues to the nature of these unknown fantasies. However, when her bizarre thinking is interpreted in a literal fashion the interpretation only produces the sort of theoretical nonsense and psychobabble that we hear coming from the so-called experts.

{58} . . . While this work deals with all forms of self-harming behaviour, its main focus will be on the enigmatic nature of anorexia nervosa and cutting, both of which have a historic trail to work with. I will also be discussing the psychological phenomenology behind bulimia nervosa, which is an entirely new disorder (Gordon, 2001) that complements anorexia nervosa in the modern setting. The curious phenomenon of cutting expresses the neo-Gothic mood of the adolescent culture of today’s youth. These self-harming behaviours have become somewhat of an epidemic among adolescents during the past thirty or so years. The manifestation of this cluster of disparate disorders around a common theme suggests that they all arise from the same archetypal source.

{59} . . . Jungian psychology regards one’s spirituality to be important because regressive tendencies also conjure up primitive spiritual tendencies and superstitions. Most anorexics secretly engage in various degrees of spirituality and ritualism. Although researchers feel compelled to comment upon the anorexic’s spirituality, most of these theorists completely ignore this feature of the disorder in their theorizing and choose to regard the anorexic’s lack of normal sexuality as a sign of immaturity rather than as an aspect of her spirituality. However, both the anorexic’s avoidance of conventional sexuality and her heightened spirituality can provide us with important clues to the nature of the hitherto unknown fantasy-like psychic process that is taking place in her unconscious background.

The Riddle of the Sphinx

{60} . . . Although the Sphinx is a fictional character from mythology, I want to avoid using the language of psychology as much as possible because many people get bored to the point of numbness reading "the unconscious this," "the unconscious that" and I don't blame them. So in order to write in a more engaging fashion I will be using the popular characters from mythology to represent constellated unconscious factors that behave like mythological characters or evil spirits. Although this is easily enough understood by the average individual, I have to mention this because there are those pedantic individuals perched in high places who will immediately assume that I am writing about the occult and criticise my writing according to the dictates of their superstitious fears.

{61} . . . Oftentimes, in the therapeutic setting, the anorexic confronts her therapist in the manner of the Sphinx from an ancient Greek tragedy. She epitomizes the fateful riddle that threatens the core of his very being with the spectre of being devoured unless he can overcome her wiles. Our modern technological society seems to be facing the same sort of plague that gripped the mythological Greek city of Thebes where children went missing and the king was powerless to do anything about it. Although the psychotherapeutic community purports to understand the nature of self-harming behaviour in the terms of some antiquated Freudian theories about trauma, family conflict and arrested mental development, its therapeutic practices cannot overcome the enigmatic waif who has embarked upon a quest to understand the mysteries of life.

{62} . . . For more than thirty-five years after the outbreak of an epidemic of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and cutting, these disorders presented modern society with a rather perplexing riddle. The troubled young lady comes to us from a background of cultural upheaval like the ghostly maiden from an old Japanese fairytale who eats nothing, but threatens to devour everything if we should attempt to try lifting her veil of mysteries. The fear-struck theorist then winds up advancing a circular explanation about the anorexic's malady that leaves her veil of mystery untouched. Despite advances in technology and medicine, the cause and the dynamics behind self-harming behaviour largely remained a deep mystery until now.

{63} . . . No one who is committed to the official version of psychological authority understands the underlying dynamics that operates in the psychic background of self-harming behaviour. Because of their troubling nature, some of the universal features of self-harming behaviour have never been understood before the conception of this book. I have also gone to great lengths to make my work understandable to anyone who does not know anything about Jungian psychology. I have placed references to the Collected Works of C.G. Jung in my text, so that anyone who wants to understand what I am writing about in a Jungian context can refer to the appropriate text.

{64} . . . The official version of psychological authority has all kinds of rationalized theories about self-harming behaviour, but every one of them is a superficial product of society’s fantasy belief system. Although a superficial understanding of the cause of self-harming behaviour can be attributed to arrested development, this sort of explanation does not account for the fact that anorexia nervosa was never an epidemic before it showed up in the 1960s. Moreover, bulimia nervosa and cutting never showed up together at a previous time but suddenly emerged during the 1970s to become an epidemic. The purpose of understanding the underlying nature of self-harming behaviour is to provide the means to understand the unconscious fantasy thinking behind self-harming behaviour. For the anorexic's unconscious fantasies have an important symbolic meaning and purpose that need to be understood in terms of a process of mental development that has gone awry and sending the hapless young lady on a spiritual quest to understand that aspect of womanly mysteries that are beyond human understanding.

{65} . . . The fantasy that is operating in her psychic background is especially important for the entrenched anorexic to understand. This is because her condition has advanced to a stage where it is beyond the Freudian notion that it is a simple matter of helping an anorexic patient outgrow her childish tendency to use delusional fantasies as a subterfuge from the existential problems of life. Once a self-harming individual has mastered the art of teetering on the edge of the abyss between life and death, she will use her position to control the world around her. To her, it is like standing precariously on a ledge forty stories up with a crowd transfixed upon her tiny image against the background of a heavenly blue sky. Will the angel fall into the abyss or can she really fly? That is, will she rise up like the waxing and waning of the Moon Goddess or will she succumb to a spectral enchantment from the underworld. This was the dilemma faced by the Swan Queen in the Black Swan movie (2010).

{66} . . . When understood literally, the anorexic's convictions are delusions that only cause confusion and self-harming behaviour. Jungian psychology trusts that the anorexic is not delusional, but that her convictions possess a symbolic meaning that she needs to consciously understand in order to effect the sort of transformation of her personality that isn't provided for in a modern society whose focus upon maintaining a doctrine of materialism has become almost fanatical.

{67} . . . This transformation of the personality from one stage of life to the next was the goal of the life process up to the point where the normal life process that occurs in the background of the mind became derailed by some dreadful event or a disturbingly provocative influence. Then the next morning she wakes up only to find herself on an adventure to find her secret garden that the fairies have hidden away in the enchanting but bewildering Wonderland of archetypal mythology. That is, she became overpowered by an archetypal unconscious influence that starts out as a seemingly inconsequential quirk and slowly developed into an ever enchanting adventure of archetypal possibilities.

{68} . . . Understanding the fantasy that transpires in the background does not assume to explain or understand an individual anorexic's personal feelings with a canned explanation. However, understanding the archetypal fantasy that is operating in the background can give the patient an understanding of the psychological reason she is suffering in a bizarre manner. The typical patient wants to understand the meaning and purpose behind her curious thinking because she intuitively feels that it possesses an important meaning for her. And indeed it doses, but only if she can understand it and integrate it into her conscious personality. This process would eliminate the self-harming aspect of this perplexing mental phenomenon without taking away her unknown quest to understand the enigmatic mysteries of life.

{69} . . . In order for our heroine to enter into her secret quest, Alice had to find a way to become small enough to enter through the hidden passageway that led into the enchanting garden of Wonderland. After an anorexic has become accustomed to living in this Wonderland, she is not about to abandon her enigmatic quest only to find herself back in a technological world that is cold and indifferent to her spiritual sensibilities.

{70} . . . The purpose of this book is to help anyone who is involved with this sort of problem to understand those incomprehensible unconscious factors that can give rise to self-harming behaviour whenever the quest for understanding becomes frustrated and the developmental process reaches a standstill.

{71} . . . Entrenched anorexia nervosa is a problem that the scientific community dreads because it transcends all conventional scientific understanding and everyone involved in the problem winds up swamped in the quagmire of a Wonderland that the anorexic presides over. Faced with the embarrassment of never being able to understand anorexia nervosa, the scientific community attempts to cover its lack of understanding the underlying factors by pontificating like the haughty caterpillar of Wonderland sitting upon his mushroom, "many things contribute to the cause of anorexia nervosa," to which Alice replied with sly calculation, "Welcome to my Wonderland!"

{72} . . . Alice is experiencing her bout with anorexia nervosa as an enchanting but madding adventure in Wonderland. Alice doesn't understand how or why she got here except as an attempt to reduce a bit of weight in order to slip through the passageway into what appeared from the outside as an enchanting garden. Now that she is in here, she is finding it to be a seductively enchanting place of madness and confusion but she doesn't know if she really wants to find her way back to reality.

{73} . . . After years of living in her maddening Wonderland realm, Alice has become accustomed to its curious ways. This fact makes it hard for her to leave Wonderland and go back to a place that does not understand her needs or care about her way of thinking. However, not every anorexic thinks this way. Sometimes an anorexic feels as if some sinister force is holding her soul captive in an underworld dungeon from which she wants to escape from the enchantment and return to the real world. Then again, the anorexic is often of both minds, pulling her this way and then that way.

Primary Anorexia Nervosa v/s Entrenched Anorexia Nervosa

{74} . . . (In the context of this essay, I am using the words “primary anorexia” to mean the beginning phase of the disorder.)

{75} . . . Primary anorexia nervosa can usually be suppressed by following some creative therapeutic techniques. Essentially these techniques entail that the therapist assume the role of an authority who pretends to understand everything about anorexia nervosa and pretending to know how to cure the problem. When addressing a naïve anorexic about her problems, the therapist typically assumes an authoritarian approach. This approach uses, metaphorically speaking, the same sort of charisma and tact that a witchdoctor would use to disarm any resistance in his victims. While this may seem like a rather harsh way to describe the process, one must keep in mind that this situation is as if one were confronting evil spirits that possess an innocence victim. Hence, one feels compelled to use the same sort of powerful medicine in dealing with evil spirits that a shaman or an astute witchdoctor would use.

{76} . . . Without this confident, authoritarian approach, the evil spirits that possess the anorexic would become hostile and uncooperative because this sort of relationship is the nature of the unknown archetypal dynamics of an anorexic’s psychology. Once the evil spirit’s occult power over the patient has been suppressed, an atmosphere of confidence can be established. Then the therapist usually assumes the role of a coach and cheerleader in a process of helping the individual conform to the therapist’s authoritarian world view. Because of the masochistic nature of self-harming behaviour, the evil spirits, i.e., negatively constellated unconscious forces, that gave rise to primary anorexia nervosa can usually be suppressed and replaced by the dynamics of an authoritarian belief system. Nonetheless, there is always the possibility of a relapse because the patient was never actually cured, only that the activated unconscious factors that gave rise to anorexia nervosa were suppressed. Consequently, in a quiet moment of despair the evil spirits can come creeping back and overpower the innocence victim’s mind with delusional thoughts again.

{77} . . . Although there is no such thing as evil spirits. the unconscious behaves in a way that it appears to be playing the part of a host of evil spirits. Evil spirits and demons are metaphors for troubling mental disorders. Because we are involved in a Mad Tea Party vis-à-vis the unconscious, compulsive behaviour must be addressed as if it were an actual a case of evil spirit at play. Otherwise the unconscious factor would not cooperate in the sort of game we are caught up in playing. There is a trickster factor in the unconscious that loves to play games, and playing along with its asinine games can be a way to get its cooperation. This phenomenon was portrayed in Alice’s Adventures where she was invited to play a silly game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts.

{78} . . . Entrenched anorexia nervosa is a different matter. The entrenched anorexic has become a master of an otherworldly mystique. Hence, she is not so willing to submit to the facile dictates of some petty authoritarian therapist. Consequently, entrenched anorexia nervosa is rarely suppressed by an authoritarian style of approach. The entrenched anorexic has reached a developmental point whereby her psychic wisdom is superior to the intellectual capacity of any conventionally trained therapist. Then it becomes a matter of finding a way to manage her condition in order to keep her from dying.

{79} . . . Because the dynamics of entrenched anorexia nervosa are different than those of simply being possessed by evil spirits, the therapist must use an entirely different approach to therapy. In this case, the therapist must understand the nature of the archetypal dreamlike fantasy that is operating in the patient’s unconscious background that functions like a bevy of malevolent fairies at play. Otherwise the situation becomes one of a confrontation with the Sphinx where the naïve therapist himself gets entangled in a masochistic fantasy involving a tragic fate of epic proportions.

{80} . . . This work will also be of interest to anyone who is working with patients who are vexed by entrenched anorexia nervosa or any other form of entrenched self-harming behaviour. The information contained in The Queen of Wonderland book will allow a sincere and competent therapist to work effectively with entrenched self-harming behaviour. It will also provide any individual who is vexed with self-harming tendencies with an understanding about the underlying factors involved in her problem, which is necessary for a proper cure, i.e., the eventual transformation of her personality. However, she must realize that this is not a magical process, but something that must be consciously worked upon.

{81} . . . Understanding the underlying unconscious factors that operate in the background of self-harming behaviour is something that was largely unknown until the conception of this book. Moreover, an understanding of the archetypal psychology that operates in the background of self-harming behaviour is something that is actively discouraged by the promoters of any authoritarian approach. This is because their intention, like the intentions of any cult, is to coerce the patient into a form of conformity that is acceptable to the cult’s authorities. "It is virtually impossible to find any expert in the field who does not adhere to the party line (Boskind-White and White, 2000, p.225)." The professional authorities are jealous protectors of their charges and take pride in their ability to manipulate women for their own good. As a consequence of the negligence involved in this exclusive authoritarian attitude, many young ladies die annually of anorexia nervosa (according to the statistics of the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association).

Introduction to an Adventure in Wonderland

{82} . . . (This introduction represents the original theme of The Queen of Wonderland project. I have since changed my approach to analysing the metaphors contained in popular Gothic fantasy stories as a way to illustrate the nature of the fantasies behind self-harming behaviour.)
The heroine of our curious tale is a young lady named Alice who is an imaginary character that I borrowed from Lewis Carroll and had her recast in the role of the soul of an anorexic for a different kind of adventure into the Wonderland realm of archetypal mythology. Alice's new role was created for her in order to help us illustrate the curious mythology that can take place in the psychic background of an anorexic's mind. Because Alice’s adventures involve a dream-personality, not the actual person with anorexia nervosa, our Alice is not meant to be construed as representing the conscious experience of a real human being. In other words, our Alice’s adventures are the dreamlike adventures of the soul, not the experience of the suffering person who is beset with anorexia nervosa. Yet, in a way, Alice’s adventures represent the surreal, trance-like adventures of someone who is experiencing the world as if it were an unreal Wonderland.

{83} . . . The mythological Wonderland adventure that is taking place in an anorexic’s unconscious background is what is adversely influencing her conscious thinking. Since an anorexic is totally unaware of what is transpiring in the background of her psyche, it would be impossible to elicit much useful information from an anorexic patient in order to illustrate the nature of what is going on behind the scenes that is influencing her conscious thinking. However, this portrayal of the soul in the form of a fictional Alice character possesses the uncanny ability of being able to take us into the forbidden underworld realm during her many lucid dreams that we are privileged to observe through this fictional account of her adventures.

{84} . . . These fictional portrayals of the fantasies that transpire in the background of anorexia nervosa have the advantage of having been derived from the clues taken from many recorded case histories. Some of these case histories reach as far back as the Middle Ages and even to the first recorded case of a woman in ancient Rome who starved herself to death as a result of becoming influenced by a new kind of spiritual belief that found its way into Roman society.

{85} . . . What we are exploring here are the unknown fantasies of the unconscious realm that can override conscious thinking with fantastic delusions. Conventional psychology only looks at the surface effects which are often manifested as confused patters of family dynamics that appears to be caused by the arrested development of the patient — not necessarily the other way around as is generally supposed. This is because what appears to be arrested development is partly a state of regression. Conventional psychology only shows us a superficial picture of the problem. But overcoming some of the problems of arrested development by using ordinary therapeutic methods can oftentimes repress or even shut down the negative influences emanating from the depths of the unconscious that cause self-harming behaviour. However, in more difficult cases, ordinary therapeutic methods are not very effective because the actual problem was never understood. The actual problem is that the normal developmental process hit a roadblock, stalled and an alternative developmental process took over that is somewhat archaic in nature.

{86} . . . The inspiration for my work on the nature of anorexia nervosa derives from C.G. Jung's book (Jung, 1976), Symbols of Transformation, that was originally published in 1912 when it precipitated his expulsion from Freud's inner circle of psychoanalytic study. It was Sigmund Freud who helped to initiate a long tradition of psychoanalytic dogmatism where the theorist sets himself up as an all-knowing father figure over the patient, which is sometimes the sort of technique that prevails in the present methods of dealing with "impossible cases" like anorexia nervosa. C.G. Jung, on the other hand, assumed that the patient's underlying fantasies provided the symbolic medicine that needs to be interpreted in a way that the patient can understand and assimilate it into her consciousness in order to effect a transformation of her personality.

{87} . . . Although the case history of the young woman that C.G. Jung reviewed in Symbols of Transformation represents a prelude to schizophrenia, there are many similarities between the attitude and fantasy thinking of this young woman and that of many anorexics. Most of the influential schools of modern psychology simply regard the anorexic to be delusional and have devised clever techniques for gaining her confidence, so they can hopefully talk her out of her so-called delusions. One analyst exclaims dogmatically that "those women who are deeply troubled in their relations to their bodies must find a way to live in this world —; not some other (Lawrence, 1998)."

{88} . . . Because the anorexic does not understand the fantasies that were inadvertently activated in the depths of her psychic, she is being forced to live them out in her life in the form of bizarre symptoms. The objective of Jungian psychology is to help the patient consciously understand these unknown fantasies, so that instead of self-harming behaviour, there is a process of transformation of the personality. This process may be a difficult and painful path for the patient because it necessitates a dramatic change in her attitude. The fantasy materials that is in question is not the manifest delusions of her conscious thinking, but an unknown dream-like fantasy that is taking place in the background of her psyche. This is the overriding influence behind her conscious delusions. When interpreted literally, her conscious delusions are delusions. But when interpreted symbolically, her so-called delusions possess the key to understanding the nature of the unknown underlying fantasy.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Copyright 10 January 2007

{89} . . . (This was written way back in July of 2007. The whole nature of the project has changed since that time because I found that my writing involved too much psychological language and explanations that would not be comprehensible to many people. Moreover, as I researched the phenomenon of self-harm, I began to realize that this phenomenon involved a much larger repertoire of mythological and fantasy themes that what I had originally imagined.)

{90} . . . The unconscious psychological phenomenology of the anorexic experience can be explained by Jungian psychology in terms of an otherwise normal psychic process that simply went awry. An activated psychic process can have the unfortunate side effect of contaminating a sensitive individual's conscious thinking with the symbolic language of the unconscious. In a later chapter I will explain why the unconscious uses a different sort of language that seems strange to our conscious way of thinking. In this work I will explain what is known of the mythology that makes up the psychological phenomenology operating in the background of anorexia nervosa. With this understanding an entrenched anorexic along with the help of a competent therapist can consciously understand and confront the unconscious factors that are undermining her consciousness. Without this understanding, both Alice and her therapist are merely on a silly adventure in Wonderland.

 

address

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{91} . . . This web site serves as an introduction for The Qeeen of Wonderland project, which is about the spiritual nature of self-harming behaviour. The main emphasis of this work is on the problem of understanding the enigmatic symbolism and spiritual nature of anorexia nervosa and cutting.

References:

Cowan Lyn, (1982) Masochism: A Jungian View, p. 41. Spring Publications, Inc., Dallas.
Gordon R, (2001) Eating Disorders East and West: A culture-bound syndrome unbound, edited by Mervat N, Katzman M, Gordon R, p. 1. Taylor & Francis Inc., New York.
Jung, C. G., (1976) Symbols of Transformation, Collected Works, Vol. 5, (2nd ed.) Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Lawrence, Marilyn, ( Reprinted 1998) The Anorexic Experience, p. 26. The Women’s Press Ltd., London (Originally published 1984, revised 1988, 1995) .
Lee, S, (2001) Fat phobia in anorexia nervosa: Whose obsession is it? In: Eating Disorders and Cultures in Transition, edited by Mervat N, Katzman M, Gordon R, pp. 40-54. Taylor & Francis Inc., New York.
Woodman, Marion, (1982) Addiction to Perfection, Inner City Books, Toronto.