Starting to Free One’s Self From anorexia/bulimia

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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