Research

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I am a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Washington-Tacoma.

My work examines how overeating is influenced by living in an affluent culture focused on consuming. I view appetite not only as biological drive, but as a broader desire to consume material goods, luxury experiences, food, medications, and alcohol. My work has been featured in academic journals such as Food, Culture and SocietyPsychoanalytic Review, and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, as well as popular publications such as Pacific Standard.

My book The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism (Bloomsbury, 2015) argues that overeating is the logical outcome of this insatiable consumerism. My work is anchored in the psychoanalytic case study method and I use clinical material to demonstrate how loneliness, depression, and purposelessness drive consumption and overeating. I frame this argument within the empirical science of neuroendocrinology, nutrition studies, addictive behavior and self-regulation.

I also focus on how the food and pharmaceutical industries use psychology to trick us into consuming more by distorting scientific information, sowing nutritional confusion, resisting regulation and convincing us that the solution to the ills of overconsumption is more consumption. For this area of my research I use qualitative data analysis of food industry white papers and market research reports.

I principally identify as a theoretician with the goal to advance a philosophical argument that makes a contribution to applied scientific areas as well.  I find that existential-psychoanalytic theory bolstered by the empirical science of nutrition, neuroendocrinology, neurochemistry and consumer studies creates a rich and fruitful understanding of the human condition while taking into account the surrounding cultural and economic forces which shape behavior.