Attachment, Identity, Community & Food
A Bowlby Centre Conference – 26th February 2022
Where there is food there is attachment. How we feed ourselves and others is a product of both cultural practices and personal capacity to nourish and welcome the other. The dinner table is a stage where guests are welcomed and family dramas are enacted. Sharing meals helps build connection and communities, but food is also a political and social hot potato. This ‘in person’ conference brings together six speakers to explore some of the powerful meanings expressed through our relationships with food.
Attachment, Greed and Generosity: Feeding Ourselves and Others
The impact of the Covid pandemic, global warming and refugee crises have highlighted our capacity for generosity, selfishness and greed. Food is a vital, precious and finite resource, and how we share it out depends on feeling adequately resourced in our internal worlds too.
While empathy and a sense of fairness appear to be innate, they can be distorted and perverted by insecure attachment experiences. This talk will consider attitudes to others, whether they are welcomed at the table as guests, viewed as rivals, seen as objects of pity or ignored as they starve.
Fingers and Forks
Sight loss has a profound impact on a persons’ relationship with food, themselves, other people, and the wider community. In losing vision, blind people can become invisible. Shopping for ingredients, cooking and sharing meals become hurdles that can further isolate them.
Toni will share her experiences of working with and meeting those whose lives have been changed through their visual impairment, raising awareness around some challenges blind and partially sighted people encounter. She will consider factors that tend to promote a better quality of life and highlight some of the aspects that are likely to inhibit independence, connection, and a sense of wellbeing.
Professor Julia Buckroyd
‘Closer than hands and feet: food my frenemy’
Identity, sense of self, is forged in the crucible of relationships in early life, attachment experiences. A viable identity will enable intellectual and emotional development so that we become capable of loving and working. Attachment that is significantly inadequate will leave a child struggling for safety and identity. An eating disorder may provide a way of life that can substitute for an absent or unduly hostile self-definition. However painful, it is pre-occupying and can provide some relief from ‘I don’t know who I am’ or ‘I hate myself’. As a solution it is expensive, since time for development passes by.
Trauma, dislocation and allotments: growing people, crops and community
Food growing is a rewarding and challenging skill that encompasses the personal, inter-relational, and draws on a deepening connection with nature. Voltaire advised a garden can reveal much of life to us, and through the act of nurturing seeds into harvests, gardeners suffering from trauma, dislocation, deprivation and mental ill-health find solace, connection and meaning. Rebecca will share vignettes of moments in the process that she has encountered with clients, from two decades of horticultural therapy practice.
Kitchen Therapy: creating community in the time of Covid
Kitchen Therapy combines cookery with therapeutic practice, using the relationship with food, cooking and eating as a therapeutic medium to connect people with their deepest sense of Self as profoundly social beings and bring their basic attachment needs into focus.
During Covid 19, KT went outdoors. On a community farm, around real fire, people from differing backgrounds, cultures and resources gathered to pick, cook and eat together, sharing stories and their common humanity. This talk, including film clips of these community-building events, will demonstrate how food-related memories and practices, when shared, can create potentially transformative bonds between people.
The significance of food for Nazanin
This talk considers the importance of food and eating in Evin prison, Iran, as reflected through the experiences of Nazanin, her cellmates and her family. It will draw out some of the different dynamics of eating and not eating, making and sharing food, as a way of holding onto a life outside prison, and a dignity inside – and of recovering a sense of humanity and solidarity.