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The Overview of Eating Disorders and Shame - Ignoring Doesn't Make It Go Away!

  • Broadcast in Health
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We are going to begin an overview of shame and it's impact on individual's suffering with eating disorders. After working with clients suffering from eating disorders and their significant others I have learned many things. Some of those lessons include: Denial of the seriousness of the disordered behavior from any perspective – the clients, their family members/significant others or the medical community can be destructive in several ways: • The most devastating denial comes in the form of ignoring of a potential cry for help by the sufferer. Denial provides the external validation that the deadly behavior is indeed not really a problem giving the sufferer permission to continue a slow form of suicide. This leaves the psychological message that ‘the individual is not worthy of love or concern’. • Potentially the denial by others provides support for the continuance of the life-threatening behavior. • The denial of the sufferer themselves allows for not only the continuation of the destructive behavior but additionally the avoidance of often current significant life circumstances. • Finally but most importantly – the denial of others to recognize the serious problem sends inadvertently the message that ‘the sufferer is not important enough to be cared for’. Eating disorders are not ‘life-stages’. It cannot be counted on that an individual will ‘outgrow’ the behavior. Also the simplistic attitude of ‘just stop it’ causes increased demoralization for the sufferer. While often this is said with good intentions it is generally not heard that way. It is not my intention to be disrespectful in any manner however; if it truly were as simple as ‘just stop it’ or ‘just eat’ I think the medical community would have caught onto that concept – maybe some 30+ years ago.

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