Fear of Abandonment and Eating Disorder
Tina constantly experiences a dreadful fear of abandonment and has an eating disorder. She has repeated memories of the colour red and of a candle, which do not make sense to her but have been going on for as long as she can remember.
Tina had intimacy problems linked to abandonment issues, eating disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder. One clinician suggested she had been sexually abused and, because of the recurring images of the colour red and of a candle, he suggested that maybe it occurred during satanic worship ceremonies. This made Tina’s anxiety worsen. For two years, they probed her life story together, trying without success to find memories of ritual abuse.
Tina tried another therapist who used EMDR. The therapist targeted the underlying memory of the colour red and the candle. During processing, she saw herself on her fifth birthday. Her father had given her a scented candle and then they went off in the car to her birthday party. As they were driving, a car crashed into them and her father was killed, providing a more reasonable explanation than satanic abuse for her abandonment issues, persistent anxiety, and eating problems.
Was Tina really in the car with her father when he was killed? She phoned her mother and asked, “Mum, is it true? Was I with Dad when he died?” Her mother confirmed it: “We thought you didn’t want to talk about it because you never mentioned it.”
Tina’s mother wanted to protect her and, without recollecting her father’s death, her symptoms did not make any sense. With EMDR treatment, the symptoms linked to the traumatic event disappeared after processing.