The purpose of this dissertation is to explore a particular moment in compulsive eating I term the "first bite phenomenon." In essence, it is comprised of an archetypal energy within an autonomous complex that, when activated, overpowers the ego. This results in an abduction where the sufferer acquiesces, submitting to a literal first bite of food that begins a cycle of compulsive, or emotional, eating.
This is an archetypal Jungian, hermeneutic investigation that addresses the question, "What is the first bite phenomenon in American women?" In this study, the images of the vampire and voracious witch emerge and are amplified. Personal story and published case material support this theory and provide a heuristic methodological element.
The vampire and witch are among the most prevalent images manifesting in contemporary American culture and psyche. This study probes the intrapsychic presence of the vampire and voracious witch. Seen as agents of ravenous desire with the intention of stealing one's life force, they are revealed as perverted, sinister images of the longing of the human spirit for Eros. Their insatiable hunger and desire is then seen to be cathected onto literal food. Consuming food temporarily sublimates the deeper longing of food for the soul. The complex, I theorize, manifests in the sufferer consequent to trauma, which may be subtle or blatant.
A majority of American women struggle with food issues, often trapped in cycles of dieting and bingeing, ever in pursuit of a culturally defined perfect body. The first bite is investigated from archetypal, personal, cultural, and psycho-somatic perspectives. Primary vampire lenses are Bram Stoker's Dracula and contemporary vampire incarnations. Voracious witch images are gleaned from fairy tales and myths of Sleeping Beauty , Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood , Medusa and the Dionysian maenads.
This phenomenon is a meaningful visitation of otherness within an archetypal or imaginal perspective. Understood as an alchemical experience of the nigredo, the first bite phenomenon is explored through two movements—seduction and possession. Dark and deadly, the vampire and witch are also seen to provide a portal for the possibility of healing and individuation.