Anorexia & Bulimia – Eating Disorders

Starting to Free One’s Self From anorexia/bulimia

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Understand how we, as individuals, help support anorexia/bulimia in our own lives and the lives of others. Notice how our society supports the life of the problem of anorexia/bulimia.

anorexia/bulimia support systems may include linking together:

  • the tyranny of perfection to high school expectations and peer group pressures (see the case story on young Jade)
  • fear and isolation with the breaking down of communities
  • negative thinking about ourselves as a result of media advertising
  • mother-blaming instead of community and professional responsibility

It is important to begin finding answers to the questions of why so many people – from corporate executives, college students, young women, mothers, and people of color, experience feeling so less-than-worthy.

People struggling with anorexia/bulimia continually say that society is central to anorexia/bulimia’s strong hold over them. If we continue to simplify the “origins” of anorexia/bulimia by placing blame solely on the person and by-passing society’s role, the problem of anorexia/bulimia will not go away and will, in fact, grow larger.

Therapists and family members need to pay close attention to the anorexic/bulimic fears, beliefs and rules. However bizarre these anorexic/bulimic lifestyles may seem they can always be linked to a person’s interpretation of society’s rules. Analyzing a person’s anorexic/bulimic beliefs and fears and linking them – not to a pathology of the person – but to normal and dominant ideas of the person’s community has proven to be very helpful in therapy.

Using this model, many persons suffering from anorexia/bulimia can experience the years of blame and shame. They begin to see how they were duped, recruited, and invited into anorexia/bulimia. For the first time, many can begin to unravel their relationship with anorexia/bulimia and begin to question their involvement with this silent killer.

A therapist or family member who wants to open up a conversation, which will explore the community’s impact on anorexia/bulimia can begin by asking this simple question –

“Have you ever wondered why so many women report hating their bodies?”

Discussion at this point will be general and non-threatening. You might ponder the fact that body-hatred among women is staggering and yet women do not have a genetic pre-disposition to hate their bodies. Women, it would seem, have been trained into specific ideas about their bodies. The training grounds for body-hating ideas are many. They include: religious institutions, abuse against women, media/advertising, male culture, etc..

During these discussions space is opened up for sadness, hope and anger towards anorexia/bulimia and its societal supports. There is no self blame, no shame and there is certainly no room for feeling like a less-than-worthy-person. Try it; it may help.

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Questions to Ask Yourself and Others about anorexia/bulimia

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

The following questions have been collected from a variety of actual therapy sessions.

Questions for People Who Are Struggling with anorexia/bulimia

  • What have you lost to anorexia/bulimia that most saddens you?
  • Do you believe you are just the person anorexia/bulimia tells you that you are?
  • Do you think it is fair that anorexic/bulimic lifestyles make people so lonely, friendless and isolated?
  • In what ways has anorexia/bulimia affected your relationship with yourself by telling yourself that you are not worthy?
  • Who in your life have you lost because anorexic/bulimic rules demand so much of your time? Do you think this is fair?
  • If anorexia/bulimia is your “friend” then why does it talk so badly about you?
  • Would a good friend do this to you?
  • How is it that anorexia/bulimia gets away with making people remember to forget their best qualities?
  • How is it that anorexia/bulimia tricks people with promises of safety while it silently takes them away from everyone who loves and supports them?

Questions to Ask About anorexic/bulimic Lifestyles

  • Do you think it fair that anorexic/bulimic lifestyles attempt to devastate and destroy the best women of our generation?
  • What supports are there in popular culture that feed a ‘not-measuring-up-to’ anorexic/bulimic lifestyle?
  • How does the culture of ‘thinner is better’ sway people’s thoughts away from other unnoticed qualities in themselves?
  • Is the violence that anorexia/bulimia perpetuates on a woman’s body similar or different to male violence against women?
  • What is it our society promotes that leaves most women with a distorted sense of their own bodies?
  • What effect does being a slave to the idea of perfection have on the problem of anorexia/bulimia overtaking a person?
  • Do you think there are factors in a person’s life beyond their control that makes anorexia/bulimia look like an attractive option?

Questions to Ask Yourself if You Are Going Free of the Problem of anorexia/bulimia

  • At which time of the day are you most anorexic/bulimic free?
  • How were you able to find this freedom?
  • What does it feel like when you realize that other people are enjoying your own mind/personality instead of them only experiencing the mind/personality the anorexic/bulimic life once gave you?
  • When you string together your victorious moments away from anorexia/bulimia, what effect does it have on the anorexia/bulimia?
  • What rules of anorexia/bulimia did you eventually have to break in order get your life back?
  • Who in your life is the least surprised by your leaving anorexia/bulimia behind?
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Combatting Fear

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Fear is often very involved in keeping anorexia/bulimia alive. believes questioning the effects fear has in a person’s life is very helpful. We talk about fear’s negative effects by exploring them through the talk of gender training, educational training, “proper manners” training, friendship training, corporate/work training, class training, race training, religious training, homophobic training, body training, racist training etc. Each relevant talk and effect can be carefully mapped out. Different kinds of talk are forever linking up with one another and it is within this dialogue that we can begin to “connect the dots” and bring forth fear’s claims “into the open.”
Listed below are some issues and sample questions to consider when taking on the issue of fear-of-not-being-worthy in the person’s life:

  • How were you able to push back the anorexic/bulimic fear, when fear had you boxed into such a tight corner?
  • What are some of the specific techniques you used to rid yourself of the panic that fear brought?
  • What does it feel like to know that slowly but surely you are now controlling your fears?
  • When you have those times that you are free of fear, how does your world look different?
  • Do you think that there are times when you are free of fear and you don’t recognise it? If so do you think you are even more free of fear than you think?
  • Do you think this fear is an imperfect fear?
  • Could you give me an idea of what ideas/experiences support this idea of your self as a less than worthy person?
  • What systems of knowledge support this view of what is said to be “normal”?
  • Have there been persons in your life that have in some way helped this less than worthy view of yourself along?
  • How strong are these persons past views of you influencing you in todays version of yourself?
  • What institutional structures support this view of what is normal?
  • Do you think that there any larger institutional values (in our culture) that you have been influenced by that in some way encourage a less than worthy view of persons? What is your relationship to these values today?
  • What are the performed effects of this meaning?
    Are there ways that this view of yourself as a less than worthy person effects your relationships with other persons?
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Undermining anorexia/bulimia

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

As people feel more freedom to explore the problem of anorexia/bulimia and to demarcate its impact on their own life and the lives of others, they take on a certain vitality. They seem to come out from underneath. They attend to anorexia/bulimia’s relationship to gender, culture, and society.

When met with a group of women, we discussed the following questions:

  • Why do you think anorexia/bulimia attempts to devour some of the best women of our generation?
  • Can you think of ways that anorexia/bulimia “pushes its way” on to women?
  • Can you identify anything in popular culture that feeds into a ‘not measuring up to’ lifestyle?
  • If a woman wanted to make a public protest over the destructive effects of anorexia/bulimia what would you suggest she do?
  • Is the violence that anorexia/bulimia perpetrates on your body similar to or different to male violence against women? And in what ways?
  • What is it that our society promotes that leaves most women with a distorted sense of their own bodies?
  • Can you figure out what and who most promotes “perfection” training?
  • I wonder why anorexia/bulimia is so bent on reducing the women of this group into second-class citizens?
  • Does anorexia/bulimia betray your human rights?
  • Do you think it is right that anorexia/bulimia forces the members of this group into lives of isolation, perfection, subordination and suffering?
  • During our group talk were there ever times that you felt inspired enough to consider leaving anorexia/bulimia behind?
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Appreciating Freedom

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments highlights and supports any and all anti-anorexic/bulimic efforts clients make. Recognition of a persons counter-struggle while under anorexia/bulimia’s pressured regime is a magnificent experience for therapists and clients alike, and one worth truly appreciating. The following questions help outline, underline and colour in the picture of increasing and appreciating freedom:

  • At which time of the day are you most anorexic/bulimic-free?freedom?
  • I have been wondering in what ways you have “stepped outside anorexia/bulimia” this week, and I wonder what this stepping out steps you towards?
  • I wonder who in your life noticed these fantastic anorexic/bulimic free achievements?
  • Was the time spent outside anorexia/bulimic delicious?
  • Do you ever catch yourself living outside anorexia’s prison camp? What is it like? What colour is your freedom?
  • Do you ever find other people enjoying your own mind instead of them only experiencing the mind anorexia/bulimia gives you?
  • If you were to string together all of these victorious anti-anorexic/bulimic moments, what effect would it have on anorexia/bulimia?
  • What rules of anorexia/bulimia did you have to breach in order to come to today?
  • Do you think that your anti-anorexic/bulimic “noticing” of yourself has put anorexia/bulimia on notice?
  • Who in your life would be just barely amazed by your leaving anorexia/bulimia behind?
  • What advice do you have for my many colleagues who find themselves befuddled on how to best help people go free of anorexia/bulimia?
  • Have you ever plotted an escape from anorexia/bulimia?
  • I wonder what plans your own anorexic/bulimic-free person has for you?
  • I wonder which parts of your life you will retrieve and which good qualities will be re-remembered and come back to you once you go free of anorexia/bulimia?
  • I wonder how it will be for you when you are free to just have to “measure up” to yourself and not the culture of anorexia/bulimia’s nagging torment?
  • I wonder in which ways your come-back to your own life might be inspiring for other women?
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Contradicting “Labels”

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Professionals can sometimes be pejorative and blaming when working with persons taken by anorexia and bulimia—this is well-documented. The problem of anorexia/bulimia engenders strong feelings of anger, hopelessness, frustration, etc. in some mental health “care”givers. Often, people experience blame and guilt and are labelled “controlling” and “narcissistic” by professionals. opposes this negative labelling of people. We have worked carefully at creating questions which would have the effect of contradicting these other professional opinions.

  • Can you remember qualities of yourself prior to anorexia/bulimias onset that you would like to re-remember?
  • Have there been stories told about you and by you that help you to forget your finer qualities?
  • Has there ever been a time during treatment that you have disagreed with the popular and professional version of you?
  • How were you able to keep your own positive thoughts of yourself alive despite what others were saying?
  • Can you name the quality in you that has kept you alive all these years despite anorexia/bulimia’s attempts to kill you?
  • Can you remember qualities of yourself prior to anorexia/bulimia taking you that you would like your therapists/family/friends to re-remember?
  • How come we professionals have come to forget your best qualities?
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