Mirroring Voices of Mother, Daughter and Therapist in Anorexia Nervosa


  • Kathryn Dawn Weaver University of New Brunswick
  • Kristine Martin-McDonald Victoria University
  • Judith Spiers University of Alberta




mother-daughter relationship, eating disorders, recovery


The experiences of women with eating disorders and the meanings drawn from these experiences are largely hidden from health care professionals and thus are poorly represented in clinical and academic discourse. This study examined interpersonal relationships in the context of anorexia nervosa between an adolescent, her mother, and therapist revealed in their private and intimate diaries, letters, and reflections. Using narrative processes, we analyzed complex communication between the daughter and mother. The results reflected their written dialogue, represented their stories, and were validated by them. The core story, mirroring voices, documents the reciprocal processing of experiences and perceptions between the daughter and mother that facilitate the daughter's recovery. Six threads of mirroring voices include "being implicitly there for each other," "writing gives us voice," "centering on ourselves," "measuring up," "anorexic bitch," and "pain has a name." The findings suggest the use of similar strategies by the daughter and mother to manage the anorexia nervosa by recasting it as an intrusion requiring their united efforts. The major implication is that health professionals consider the mother-daughter interaction as a resource.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs120363


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Author Biographies

Kathryn Dawn Weaver, University of New Brunswick

Kathryn WEAVER, PhD, RN combines the perspectives of clients with eating disorders, their families and health professionals to understand facilitators and barriers to recovery.

Kristine Martin-McDonald, Victoria University

Kristine MARTIN-McDONALD, RN, BappSc (Nsg), MEd, PhD Kristine Martin-McDonald was invited to bring her expertise in narrative methodology to this project. Her research focuses on the qualitative aspects of self-management in chronic disease for populations in Australia and Canada.

Judith Spiers, University of Alberta

Judith SPIERS, RN, BA (Nursing), MN, PhD uses primarily qualitative approaches to explore the nature of chronic and often invisible illness and how this is constructed and understood in health professional-client interactions.




How to Cite

Weaver, K. D., Martin-McDonald, K., & Spiers, J. (2012). Mirroring Voices of Mother, Daughter and Therapist in Anorexia Nervosa. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-13.3.1700