Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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psychoanalysis is concerned with the associations and displacements that occur around a given concept. So, if a patient discusses sweets, the analyst will not be as much focused on what sweets actually are—how they affect physiology, taste buds, or the brain—as she would be with what sweets represent for the patient. While empirical studies on sweets and their physiological effects might be of some interest to the analyst, she would above all ask questions about the emotional and mental associations of sweets for the individual. The most telling of these associations often occur in the realm of the unconscious; a patient for whom sweets are a central issue would need to explore well beyond the surface of concrete data to reach the significance of sweets in his or her life. This type of inquiry foregrounds dreams, indirect links, repeated patterns of anxiety, and childhood memories.