Food for Love: Healing the Food, Sex, Love & Intimacy Relationship by Janet Greeson, Ph.D., Pocket Books, New York, 1993, $20.00 pp. 204

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

Food For Love is not just about its title. The largest portion of the book is an explanation of ninety exercises (one to be practiced each day), the author says will help aid access to one's hidden and repressed traumas. These exercises can be used profitably by anyone wishing to gain access to their early hurts regardless of the way in which those birth, infantile and childhood traumas give us a life script which moulded our acting out and acting in behaviors.

My favorite of Dr. Greeson's exercises is to post on the wall of one's private area (the place where you will do the exercises), a large blown-up photo of yourself as a child -- a photo which you feel is particularly touching. I believe that the author's exercises can be profitably combined with any type of self-therapy a la Stettbacher, Jenson or Vereshack.

Greeson calls food the primal addiction. Even when other addictions have been whipped into submission, the food addiction remains primary since being fed was the primary way we received love from our parents. Thus, practically everyone symbolizes on food. Food, being a requirement for life, is impossible to quit cold turkey. Warm turkey is also delicious and hard to give up!

The author believes that we abuse food and engage in many other destructive addictive patterns because of repressed unfelt feelings. Psychologist Greeson writes that her exercises can help us find the source of our problem and help resolve it. Forgiveness is part of the process involved but not the forgiveness directed towards the perpetrator, but instead, Greeson feels that we should begin to forgive ourselves.

We concluded, years earlier, she believes, that we were inferior, inadequate or whatever, as a result of early traumas and that we probably deserved what we received. We didn't deserve the treatment we received, she writes, so we should forgive ourselves as self-love and self-trust can help dissolve the results of those early hurts.

You forgive yourself by tracing the feeling and then going beyond the feeling to examine how the trauma had an impact on your life. You will see yourself in a new light and will begin to understand why you did what you did; why you are the way you are. Her motto is: Let it in and let it go, or trace it and erase it. Greeson feels that if you don't forgive yourself you will get stuck in your past and you will want to continually rehash the past while it is in the present where things are happening. It sounds almost too pat - too simple.

First of all, she believes that you should do the exercises at the rate of one a day, before which you should have discontinued all addictive drugs (coffee, alcohol, sugar, etc). The exercises will be an aid for bringing up into consciousness when you made the disconnection between the real you and your unreal self. You will retrieve, feel and express those early hurts -- feelings you repressed and therefore did not feel when they happened.

And it is important to find a witness or a sitter with whom to express those feelings. You need someone you can trust. The author recommends a therapist, husband, mother or father -- yes, she writes that you can use your mother or father! That is nonsense! Using a parent would be terribly inhibiting and impossible since if this procedure is to be effective you will arrive at hurts received by you from your parents, so there is no way you could/should use them as your sitters. What is the author thinking? This is a big boo boo! Hopefully, she will correct this error in the next edition.

The journey towards one's real self is not as easy as Dr. Greeson implies, but the book is interestingly written with personal anecdotes and includes a good, workable outline of exercises which can help to unblock our consciousness.

Return to Psychosomatic Symptoms and the Regressive Psychotherapies section of the PPP