July 5, 2012

Eating Disorders and Claustrophobia

A 25 year old woman came for a consultation. Her major concern was her weight – and her obsession about over eating leading which lead to deep feelings of guilt.

As you know from this site, our belief is that eating disorders are not all about food, they have to do with you and your social context: if you address issues and people that disturb you – and /or if you are isolated the ED exacerbates!

This lady lives in a highly structured religious community. She lives and works with her family. She described her life in the following way:

“I have no voice, not in the business, and not in my own life. I can’t go out and have a good time because of all the questions that I have to answer when I come home… I feel like I’m in jail.”

Let us digress for a moment. Are you ever stuck in traffic? What is the first thing that everybody does when they hit the heave traffic? They turn on the radio. The eating disorder is the radio – it is the distraction.

From our perspective, this woman needs to address the fact that she is miserable. The eating disorder is functioning to distract her from this unhappiness.

By shifting the focus to the bigger picture and addressing the conflicts and relationships that are making her so unhappy, the eating disorder loses its purpose and therefore its power. She needs to make positive changes in her life that give her a sense of purpose fulfilment and hope. She needs to find her voice to make life changes.

Her first step must be to get support — someone who will assist her in her quest to address these issues. Then she needs to start addressing the conflicts that are currently keeping her stuck. Then she will be free to figure out a new way of being in healthy relationships that are satisfying and empowering for her.

Please share your thoughts and experiences in these areas.

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  • carole: this makes a lot of sense to me too.I instead of asking and asking for help with my partner and kids do the...
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Book: Enduring Change in Eating Disorders

Enduring Change in Eating Disorders - Book Cover

Dr Fishman is the author of 'Enduring Change in Eating Disorders – Interventions with long -term results' (Brunner-Routledge 2004).

This book presents the powerful and proven effective model of Intensive Structural Family Therapy and its application to the treatment of eating disorders.