The Unbearable Heaviness of Being: Pain and Suffering in Anorexia

Lissy Canellopoulos*
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Psychology, Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Ilissia, Athens, Greece.

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© 2014 Lissy Canellopoulos.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Psychology, Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Ilissia, Athens, Greece; Tel: 0030 6945992979; Fax: 00302107277534; E-mail:


In anorexia which classically shows the difficulty in adolescence to link bodily transformations and sexuality, psychic suffering is undeniable and is embodied in the body while taking into account contemporary social data. Building on some elements of the psychoanalysis of a young anorexic girl, the article attempts to break through the wall of pain and get to perceive that in an order that is no longer governed by the paternal instance, which allows the representation, the subject can no longer support a phallusized image and the body is reduced to its reality. This results in a particularly painful female transmission in the clinic of anorexia, in which the contemporary world is not innocent. Pain is not the goal for the anorexic; it shows a willingness to feel the existence of the body. She seeks this nothing through which she attempts to capture the rift in the Other. But to achieve this nothing she must feel the pain of its absence. Pain is thus a claimed effect. The article ends with a reflection on the therapeutic work with the anorexic subject, which would be to allow the dis-completeness of the discourse concerning it, to reintroduce a relationship to its own image marked with a lack and offer the conditions of its own enunciation.

Keywords: Acting-Out, Anorexia, Feminine, Pain, Real Father.