The Foggy Part and Eating Issues

Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

There are a number of distinct parts that typically show up in clients with eating issues. They are most often tangled in a way that make them hard to distinguish and therefore work with.  Of course, not everyone has all of these parts, and we try not to rectify them by giving them specific names. However, naming their functions often unlocks deeper understanding. It allows movement on previously difficult emotional issues and shifts in historically stuck behaviors.The Foggy Part is the part that causes a lapse in conscious awareness of your relationship to yourself and what is going on at the moment or what has just happened. It manifests as dullness, confusion, blankness, emptiness, or an absent-minded feeling. Sometimes the Foggy Part can just muck up and confuse things so it feels like you have lost the thread of a conversation. At other times, it appears as complete dissociation, where actual time is lost and you experience having left the room or left your body.In my Beyond Eating classes, this is an especially important part for people to identify. It provides clarity about a number of very frustrating experiences. When you can name this part, appreciate its function, and develop a working relationship with it, the work opens and there is often significant movement.

How the Foggy Part Manifests

1. As your Indulger Part (the part that overeats) takes over, the Foggy Part may cause you to dissociate and loose consciousness of what you are eating, how much you have consumed, or when you have passed the “full” point. You may lose sensation in your body and fail to feel, for a while, the impact of eating large amounts of food.

2. As you work on yourself to explore your internal system, your Foggy Part may confuse things, cause you to loose track of what you are feeling or working on so you can’t productively follow the thread of your inquiry. This Foggy Part seems invested in keeping the system in place and not allowing any consciousness that would threaten change. You may suddenly feels lost, silly, embarrassed, or distracted. You can’t remember what you were talking about or why you were bothering to talk about it in the first place.

3. The Foggy Part defends against awareness of deep conflicts around self-care. If you have a strong People-Pleasing Part that focuses attention on others rather than yourself, you may give other people the nurturing they need while ignoring your own needs. Your Foggy Part may prevent you from being aware of yourself while around others, and you may get confused and muddled if asked what you want. Your Foggy Part may be protecting a Vulnerable Part whose needs were not met when you were a child. It expects that if those needs were brought out into the open today they would ignored again.

4. The Foggy Part creates a smoke screen that makes dealing with eating-related issues impossible. If you have a Helpless Part that believes that you can’t change, the fog may roll in and distract or confuse you to keep you from exploring this part. The Foggy Part seems to be holding your system in place. Change may be threatening while helplessness is known and safe. The Fog keeps you from exposing deeper needs, vulnerabilities, and trauma that it thinks are too dangerous.


IFS Demonstration Sessions on Eating Issues

Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

We are very excited to be expanding our exploration of the cluster of parts related to eating and food-related issues–the Inner Controller, The Indulger, The Rebel, The Foggy Part, the exiles being protected by these managers, the Criticized Child, and the associated Inner Champion capacities.

We now have available five demonstration sessions of using IFS with the parts in this cluster. Click on each link to learn more.

Healing Exiles Protected by Inner Controller and Indulger is a lovely complete piece of work flows spontaneously and naturally through the IFS process. The client is new to IFS. She explores the different exiles being protected by the Controller-Indulger polarity. The exile under the Inner Controller is related to the father and his disappointment in her. The exile under the Indulger is related to her harsh mother and the child’s need for sweetness and nurturing. The client takes the opportunity to develop a relationship with the exiles on both sides and retrieve and unburden them.

Developing an Inner Champion: Accessing Preciousness is a client who has experience using the IFS process to work with her eating issues. In this touching session she begins by bringing in her higher self to help her know when she is finished eating a meal. She explores the Controller’s belief that without it she would be a “bag lady,” and she goes on to heal the exile it has been protecting.

Fear of the -I want a cookie- Part and the Fog that Protects Vulnerability
The Secretive Eating Part
People Pleasing and Self Care
The last three are successive sessions with the same client. This gives us an opportunity to more deeply explore themes in her food-related issues. We begin by working on trust issues with me, and see how this relates to her setting up being teased by friends around her eating. As we explore eating triggers that relate to conflicts around self care, we repeatedly encounter a foggy part that protects her from being vulnerable. She is  able to work with exiles who hold this pain

Food Addiction and the Inner Critic

Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

An important dynamic in any addiction is the relationship between the part that engages in the addiction and the Inner Critic part that tries to control the addiction.

We call the addictive part the Indulger and the Inner Critic part the Inner Controller. These two parts are polarized, which is an IFS term that means they are in constant conflict with each other. In this case the conflict is about how much to indulge in the addiction.

The Inner Controller is concerned about the real-world consequences of your behavior (for example, becoming overweight, not being able to find a love relationship, health risks, etc.). It may also be afraid of other people’s judgments or rejection because of your behavior.

The Inner Controller tends to be rigid and punitive. It usually has fixed and precise standards for how you should live. It may have an opinion about exactly how much you should eat, what you should eat, when and with who you should eat etc. (This goes for any addiction: e.g. drinking, how you express your sexuality, spend money, etc.) [Read more…]

Inspirational Processing Through Art

This Fall I ran three “Beyond Eating” telephone classes using the IFS model. A total of 18 women worked courageously to look at the parts of themselves that ruthlessly criticized them for their eating habits and their bodies. And, we also got to know the opposing parts that engaged in indulgent and out-of-control eating.

For me, the most inspirational result of these classes was the connection between the women. They started out as a group of strangers. Gradually the trust grew and they were able to share very tender and intimate feelings about themselves and their process.

A few of the women had used drawing in their individual therapy to explore the deep processes they were unable to articulate verbally. One by one, these drawings were shared with individually and then the group. [Read more…]