Is Binge Eating Disorder Just Another Made-Up Disease?


I watched Andrew Thibault’s amazing new film on the harmful effects of stimulants with fascination and horror. This is not an easy flick to watch. For those of you who feel you are seasoned activists familiar with all the grim facts, this film may provide new, even more disturbing information. As I saw the drug Vyvanse featured as highly dangerous, I waited, hoping to see some mention of its indicated use for Binge Eating Disorder. Sure enough, one of the speakers had even self-diagnosed herself with BED, insinuating that BED was yet another pharma-created phony psych disorder. I was further dismayed when the film equated BED with being overweight.

If you never truly had BED, as I have had, then I can see why someone might jump to these conclusions. Eating disorders are rarely discussed in our movement. As a former sufferer of both BED and Anorexia Nervosa I often find myself a lone voice around these parts. Many well-educated people assume BED is nothing but gluttony. Similarly, some equate Anorexia Nervosa with either vanity or rigid perfectionism. These assumptions are either stereotypes or completely false.

Gluttony and vanity do exist, of course. However, many people truly suffer from AN and BED. Anorexia is said to be the most fatal of all “mental illnesses.” This is a grim statistic indeed. People die of starvation, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, heart attack, refeeding syndrome. Suicide is also common. I have a bit of a conundrum with putting eating disorders in the “mental illness” category, though. I see eating disorders as extremely serious conditions, but I do not see them as primarily psychological, nor do I believe they should be in the category of “mental.” I see ED as a distinct and separate category of its own. Eating disorders need to be taken far more seriously than they are currently.

What is Binge Eating Disorder? To answer this, we have to ask, “What is a Binge?” Perhaps you think you binged last night when you ate at McDonald’s. While the typical McDonald’s meal may contain many calories, more than a person requires, in itself it’s not really a binge.

In my opinion the DSM needs to specify binge quantity, but it doesn’t. The DSM omits this and leaves much room for interpretation of what constitutes a binge. This means people who feel guilty about occasional overeating also qualify as binge eaters. This means that the DSM’s failure to specify quantity has successfully widened the BED umbrella, doing a terrible disservice to those of us who truly suffer from this very real disorder.

If you read the dieting literature in detail (you can find plenty online) you will see that the average adult woman might eat 2,000 calories in a day, or, perhaps, 500 calories for lunch. That 500 calories might be a sandwich and salad.

I’m going to be quite frank here. A typical binge that I used to do might have been a dozen Dunkin Donuts plus a bunch of pastries plus a large bag of M&M’s. My estimate of 9,000 calories is likely a bit conservative here. It wasn’t always sweets. Sometimes it was regular food, not even always “carbs.” Sometimes I ate non-food (this is called “pica”) and I even dived into garbage pails.

I was not capable of vomiting afterward. For me, this meant I was in a lot of pain for a long time following the binge. I was at risk for stomach rupture. I didn’t sleep all night, could barely move, and couldn’t get my clothes on the next day. I couldn’t go out, I lay in bed and felt sick until late afternoon. Sometimes I suffered from gas and belching for hours. When bingeing reoccurred frequently I was out of commission for a week or more.

Many who suffer from binge eating try therapy, with varying results from fair to poor. Therapists have told me of their great success rates but I have yet to hear this from patients themselves. The usual first order of treatment is the “poor coping” approach. This method places primary blame on the patient, focusing on her supposedly incorrect ways of dealing with life, and replacing these with the therapist’s ways, which may, or may not, be any better. The reason why the therapy often fails is that the assumption that binge eating is the result of bad coping is often false, and usually the approach, though interesting at first, isn’t hitting the mark.

The next step might be the chemical approach. Hopefully, by now, the therapist might ask what the patient eats, but you’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen. I’m surprised at how many therapists don’t even ask what a patient binges on, nor even ask what constitutes a patient-defined binge. Sufferers have reported rude or sarcastic responses to their reports, and many are left feeling shamed or even afraid of bringing it up again.

What causes binge eating? Many say that restrictive dieting or some variant of this precedes the onset of binge eating. I believe this to be true. Even those who have binged since early childhood have reported some form of childhood malnutrition prior to binge eating. This can even happen involuntarily due to physical illness. Many were so young they cannot recall.

After a period of restrictive eating or starvation, the body has very strong cravings. Binge eating often follows recovery from anorexia, or occurs concurrently with AN, as it did for me. We know that starvation or crash dieting leads to irregular eating or even gorging oneself. This researcher (warning, the YouTube video may be upsetting to some) found that binge eating could be induced in starving rats, and it happened more frequently if the rats were stressed out. These cravings and subsequent binges are not driven by bad coping, but by physical need in the body.

Through much self-experimentation I began to realize that the body anticipates many events and prepares for these events. The body gets tired right before bedtime, preparing itself because it knows the person is going to lie down. A person who habitually self-starves will find that her body braces itself for the next famine even if one isn’t coming. The body continues to “expect” a famine even for years after a person has been eating regularly again. This explains why many people continue to have eating irregularities for many years after recovery from anorexia.

If a person binges habitually, upon sensing certain stimuli the pancreas prepares the body with insulin, and simultaneously, the stomach prepares by getting more acidic. For a binge eater, the insulin is suddenly so high that the person is driven to eat a large quantity. I finally found a study that confirmed this.

What does this mean? This means that for many of us, the drive to binge is a physical need. Therapy blames the patient for “bad coping” when all she is doing is responding to her body’s signals. Self-blame, reinforced by therapy, increases the sufferer’s feelings of shame, self-deprecation, and failure each time she binges. She returns to the therapist and the therapist tells her she needs more therapy!

In 1982 my doctors refused to admit my eating disorder was serious. They insisted I was “faking it.” The first method I devised to get myself to stop binge eating was to get myself hospitalized. There was logic to this since I knew confinement would prevent me from bingeing, and then, my body would stop the cycle. “Hospitalization” seemed to work but there was nothing stopping me from starting up the bingeing again once I got let out. I recall asking the doctor, “Can’t you just give me diet pills for this?” During the entire 34 years of coerced psychiatric “care” and multiple diagnoses, I was never prescribed stimulants.

I begged my doctors for “medication” since I’d heard antidepressants sometimes worked. The doctors tried drugs at random and lithium, tried in 1984, actually worked for a while. A study shows that lithium does help some people, but the price of losing my kidneys to that drug was too high to pay. (Drinking gasoline might work, too!) SSRI drugs are sometimes used, and more recently, Topamax, an anticonvulsant, and since then, Naltrexone, an opiate antagonist. None of these were FDA approved for BED. Of course not, since BED wasn’t in the DSM yet, and wasn’t considered a bona fide “disease.” While many of us were suffering, it wasn’t yet profitable for Big Pharma. Not until the publishing of the DSM-V in 2013.

I have to laugh because decades ago I nearly killed myself when my doctors refused to take my struggle with binge eating seriously. I fought for my cause for decades and was ridiculed. In 2013, BED was declared real. It was bittersweet indeed.

SSRI drugs never worked for me, nor did Naltrexone. Topamax did. To this day I don’t know the mechanism, and I don’t think anyone does. Some people experience alteration in their taste sensation or unwanted weight loss from Topamax. Naltrexone only helps if you derive pleasure from binge eating. I sure did not! All of these drugs have a Black Box Warning regarding suicide, homicide, or violent behavior.

I was surprised that Vyvanse was approved for BED and Topamax was not, however, when we consider that BED was only added to the DSM in 2013, it all makes sense. In 2013, Topamax was already in generic. The move to prescribe Vyvanse for BED was solely profit-driven. While men and women both have been suffering for decades from this problem, Vyvanse is new on the market, marketed and timed perfectly for the newly canned “disorder.”

However, what is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is a wildly expensive stimulant, a re-packaged version of the stuff you buy off the street known as amphetamine. It is a prescribed, controlled drug. Vyvanse is a risky drug that can cause psychosis, paranoia, and even violent behavior in people who have never before experienced such things. Vyvanse is an old diet pill dressed up fancy, packaged now for BED. Were we ED’s from the 80’s right all along when we asked our doctors for diet pills?

But wait! Does it really have to be the latest designer pill with a fancy name? Anorexics have been chugging coffee for decades and getting the same appetite-suppressing effect. Not that it’s a good idea, nor that effective. But caffeine, also an amphetamine, will do about the same thing without the prescription and, I suspect, can be just as risky.

According to Thibault’s film, both NEDA and BEDA have drug company ties. I have suspected this for a long time. (I have stated in my live discussion here at the ISEPP Conference Denver 2017 that NEDA is the NAMI of eating disorders.)

If you are suffering, you don’t have to buy pharma pills, nor get married to a doctor via prescriptions, and frankly, I wouldn’t take the risk. I know in my heart I suffered far too long with BED and AN and didn’t have to. I wish I had followed my gut instinct instead of developing a dependency on my doctors. I believe that within each of us is the answer and we only have to find that answer.

There are indeed alternatives to these risky drugs which have long been known to cause suicide, homicide, and psychosis. There are many non-drug alternatives out there. Different things work for different people. Writer Katherine Hansen’s book Brain over Binge has become wildly popular. Hansen cured her own binge eating after therapy failed her, by studying the Rational Recovery program and adopting the philosophy for binge eaters.

Therapy, especially that directed at eating disorders, can turn into a manipulative game, each trying to outsmart the other. “What did you eat today?” It turns into a cat-and-mouse game that can become fatal. That’s how it was for me toward the end, and I almost died as a result.

I was lucky to put an end to all that nonsense. I have had good results by making very simple changes, starting with becoming independent from my prior doctors and therapists, and making my life decisions entirely on my own. I was surprised at how fast I was able to resolve my eating disorder after that. I would suggest doing your own research and empowering yourself to come up with your own solutions.

One thing I discovered was that each person has to decide for herself which form of exercise is right for her body, and how much. I made my own decisions about what I needed to eat, and when. Being free of the slavery of therapy helped me take a good rational look at what was best for me.

I knew I had to regain a sense of passion in my life, passion about something besides losing weight. Where had that gone off to? What had happened to the young and talented music student who first took herself to therapy in 1981 and then never came back?

Throwing off my belief in the “bipolar” me, and my conviction in the “me” that I truly am helped me regain the passion I had before, that never should have been stolen from me in the first place. I barely even noticed that my ED had became part of the past. What a joy!

Please post here what has worked for you or what you are trying out. I would like to hear about other people’s solutions to what can be a very difficult problem.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Julie- perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the work of the late Theron Randolph, MD, a gent you may not have heard about because he was an early allergist, not a shrink of some kind.
    It was his contention, in the early 1950’s, that eating disorders came about because certain foods got the consumer buzzed when they ate them (think “psychiatric” symptoms). These foods could be identified in symptomatic individuals by water fasting them until they became symptom-free and then testing the patients’ favorite foods by reintroducing them one at a time, to see if the patients had “psychiatric” reactions to them; whereupon reactive foods could be eliminated or only consumed on a once in four day basis.
    He presented his findings on 2000 patients at an APA conference, demonstrating reactions with selected patients and received an enormous ho hum from the assembled members, although orthomolecular practitioners took up his practices in the 1970’s (thereby assuring that orthodox psychiatry would never examine his data).

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    • I have a lot of faith in orthomolecular nutrition. I actually saw Dr Pfeiffer himself. My parents took me to him hoping that doing so would convince me to get off the “medications.” This was way back in the 1980’s. We drove to NJ to see him. Sadly, at the time, I decided he was a quack and dismissed everything he said. I think this was because I saw my psychiatrist as a god who could do no wrong. I wish I could take all that back.

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        • Oooohhh. Bradford, thanks so much for explaining why for 30 years I kept saying to those fools, “I have ED,” and they stared back at me and said, “That’s impossible!”

          I hope someone’s laughing as hard as I am right now. That, in a nutshell, explains it all.

          I have always known that the real cause of people being called “mentally ill” is due to being misunderstood.

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        • I didn’t assume you had. Actually, the stereotype of ED is that we also have other addictions, that is, if you see ED as an addiction. I don’t happen to like booze, for whatever reason. I recall the MH professionals deferred to assuming I was a drinker, a cutter, and suicidal. It is really degrading when you are stereotyped.

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    • I wish it were as easy as having been a choice. While back in 1980 I made the conscious choice to go on a diet (which had nothing to do with fashion mags as I had never seen one), which was only going to last a few months, and only a few pounds, I did not expect to be caught up in a deadly cycle that I couldn’t stop once I had started it. I didn’t know what I was getting into.

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          • Of course I read it. I am not putting down binge eating – to each his own, as far as I am concerned. I just don’t understand how it’s any different from any of the hundreds of “diseases” in the DSM, which were all made up to enrich drug-dealing scam artists. If you were suffering more than benefiting from your behavior, you would have used your free will to stop doing it. This is psychiatry’s greatest harm – it’s ability to get people to think they are incapable.

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        • Lawrence as I said in the article, therapy and psychiatry perpetuated my ED, first by ignoring it and assigning me psych disorders I never had. Then after 30 years had passed they finally decided I had ED.

          I was now in my 50’s! So now, they did ED “treatment” on me in the form of force-feeding and using scare tactics. They threatened me over and over. It was a power play and it just about killed me.

          This is how it was. The therapist would demand over and over what I had eaten, would accuse me of vomiting, would tell me she had ways to get me into the state hospital, and if I was as little as ten minutes late for our twice-a-week appointments she’d be on the phone with the cops…sectioning. Once I was studying in the library and my phone rang. It was her. She said, “Where are you? I’ve called the cops on you.” I have to laugh at that one. This is the kind of stuff I had to live with, living in constant fear. I was told if I didn’t gain a half pound I’d be incarcerated. I was told I had to take a cab and couldn’t burn any calories doing anything at all. These therapists should go out of business.

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          • Steve many therapists who have control issues themselves get into the ED business. The ED “protocol” according to many therapists means forced weigh-in, reporting your food to a therapist or nutritionist, threatening the patient if she doesn’t gain, twice a week therapy, once a week weigh-in (see my article on this, it’s very very scary for kids), and a psychiatrist. This is the “team” (slavery) approach.

            The claim that ED is all about control…if it ever was…it now becomes control by the treatment team! So the control shifts. The team actually tells the parents to lay off, in effect they’re saying the parents did a bad job or caused the ED, that is, if the patient is young….the State is the Better Parent. “We do a better job so let us take over.”

            Now, the patient of course assumes these folks are actually working in her best interest and know better. Is ED about control? Yes. Yes. Yes.

            When that happened to me, THAT, is exactly what almost killed me. I was so trapped in it. When I look back I know I was responding to what they did. I know I starved myself voluntarily, but this was almost a defense against them, against the System that had harmed me.

            And in saying this, I am alive and fighting back. It needs to stop.

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        • The part that was a choice, that I wish I had not chosen, was to believe the lies of my doctors and therapists all those years. First of all, they ignored my ED and assigned me other diagnoses. It was my mistake to believe them. That was a very bad choice.

          It was also my mistake, over the years, to believe they had any answers at all. It was my mistake to believe the lie that “doctor knows best.” It was a lie that we patients should “go to staff” or to a “professional” every time we had a problem.

          It was my choice to fall for all of that. It was my mistake. It was a mistake that cost me over three decades of my life.

          It was my choice to turn my back on psychiatry and the entire mental health system. In doing so, I am doubly blessed to see the end of my ED. I realized then that the System didn’t have any answers. The answers were within myself, and are within each and every one of us. I can only hope that others see this, so that the 30+ years I spent are not a waste, but can be made into a story that helps others beat this cycle.

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  2. Julie

    Thanks for this very interesting and provocative blog on so-called eating “disorders” and the various ways the current “mental health” system “treats” them. You have covered a lot of territory and revealed some of contradictory understandings and approaches to helping people deal with these problems. It is very clear (as with all the other so-called “mental disorders”) we cannot, and should not, trust the current System to provide a clear understanding and/or safe forms of help for these problems.

    I would like to raise some comments and questions to help in the search for a greater understanding of these problems so we can get to better solutions.

    You said: “What does this mean? This means that for many of us, the drive to binge is a physical need. Therapy blames the patient for “bad coping” when all she is doing is responding to her body’s signals.”

    The above point you are making does not convince me that there is not an issue of “coping ” here. Of course no one should be “blamed” for anything related to these problems. BUT, all the physical signals you describe here, starting in the pancreas (alerting the body that a binge is imminent) may be very real, but they could have origins in a person’s thought patterns. A person may have a pattern of possibly binging at night and this may be preceded by certain thought patterns that are related to (and trigger) anxiety and/or some type of anticipation of an impending binge. The binge might provide some temporary “relief” from this anxiety, but as we know over the long run it may actually add to a person’s anxiety due to the many problems these behaviors can cause for people.

    We do know that a high percentage of people with these problems (as with most all other psych labels) have a history of some type of trauma in their lives. Trauma causes excessive levels of sustained anxiety combined with other issues of low self esteem and deep shame. This is especially true for many women who live in this society. This is related to the overwhelmingly strong tendency of men to objectify the female body (due to patriarchy) and so-called standards of “beauty” heavily imposed on young girls in our society.

    People will naturally seeks a means to resolve this problems. For some this may involved “obsessively” controlling their intake of food while seeking some order in the face of perceived AND actual chaos in their lives. This can also (for some) evolve into a desire to “disappear” (anorexia), and for others, the opposite tendency to pack on the layers of fat, where both tendencies represent, either a desire to remove any outward signs of sexual maturation and/or physical characteristics that would make them more of sexual “object” to men in this society. These patterns of coping mechanisms (and the emotions attached to them) can become deeply ingrained habits and behaviors that are difficult for people to break away from.

    These types of pressures (especially on women) in our society are huge and often manifest themselves in “unconscious” forms of thoughts and behavior for many young people. They can evolve into a set of eating patterns and behaviors that travel with that person into adulthood.

    So, of course, everything I am saying here is an indictment of the culture within our entire society, and an attempt to get at a deeper understanding of the multiple forms of unrecognized trauma that many young people endure growing up in today’s world. AND it is no accident that the U.S. contains some of the highest rates of the two extremes of anorexia and obesity in the world.

    So I am saying here that these problems are very complex. Yes, there may be some physical components that we are not yet aware of, but there is definite evidence of many psychological components that are directly connected to a very stressful and ‘sick” culture that we all forced to grow up in and endure over our lifetimes.


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    • Well, again, you are relying on stereotyping. The stereotyping even seeps into “treatment.” So what happens is that young and vulnerable people are told “You are a rigid perfectionist” and of course that acts like a diagnosis. Most patients will rise to the occasion and act the part.

      Trauma may drive a person to go on a diet, but it is the extreme diet itself that triggers the cycle. Dieting causes a vicious cycle and it is so hard to get out of it that many tell me their lives are ruined by it. Therapy actually can reinforce the cycle by heightening the power play.

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    • As for coping, from what I recall of my later years in the System I was “coping” with abusive treatment by starving myself. It was about the only thing left I could do. They cornered me into it with their power plays. They kept telling me what a bad patient I was, too.

      I got rid of the ones I had, then, tried to get new ones. I remember going from one office to another, asking them to help me. I didn’t know there was no help there.

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  3. I have a hard time, among the many fabricated “diseases” in the DSM, thinking something some doctor came up with as late as 1959, that only got into the DSM in 2013, could be very real.

    We’ve always had “binge eating disorder”, only in former times it was known as feasting. We’ve always had “anorexia nervosa”, only in former times it was known as fasting. Fasting and feasting taken to extremes can kill you.

    Obesity is now a “medical condition”. (Atypical neuroleptics are listed as one of the many contributing factors in our epidemic of obesity.) What is the cause of obesity? Over eating. Funny thing, there’s no “over eating disorder”, huh? Still, obesity is unhealthy, and it regularly kills people.

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    • Obesity does kill. When a person suffers from binge eating, that person may become overweight or maybe not. During my decades of ED, I was various weights, and even when I was rail thin I suffered horribly from bingeing. I begged for help and what happened was I was not taken seriously. OR…get this:

      I was told it was “good” to binge. The truth is that an extremely large binge can cause stomach rupture and that is almost always instantly fatal.
      …Or I was told it was no big deal…..
      Or I was accused of vomiting. This repeated accusation was traumatizing for me.

      If you really do binge it horribly disabling. You can’t work like that and you can’t function at all. You are sick all the time, and you go broke, too. It’s no way to live.

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      • Oh by the way, Frank, there are people who literally eat themselves to death. If you sit in on an Overeaters Anonymous meeting you might meet folks who seriously struggle with overeating. I have met people whose lives were very much taken over by overeating. I can say that overeating is not the same thing as bingeing. Some people suffer from both and some one or the other.

        I recall trying to explain this to people, even doctors, and since they never experienced it themselves it was futile and pointless.

        That I know of, in some regions overeating and bingeing are not even seen as distinct from each other.

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        • I’m not arguing with the fact that there are people who over eat, and that there are people eat themselves to death. I’ve said as much. I would however argue that over eating is not a disease, and that it is a matter of choice. I mean…Russian roulette is more direct and faster. There’s a choice involved there, too. I’m not saying it’s easy. You don’t have a victim where there’s a choice, or, if you do, it’s a matter of the victim being at the same time the one who victimizes. When force is applied (i.e. one is being force fed to excess), there is no choice, and that’s different. The trauma excuse? Please, I’ve heard them all.

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          • I see these as physical addictions. Can people stop psych drugs? They are physically addicting. right? Booze is, too. Binge eating, as I have explained, is physically addicting, as is anorexia, and these things are not so easy to stop, especially when you have some “therapist” harping on you or threatening.

            Have you noticed that if a smoker is nagged, that smoker will cling to his/her habit even more stubbornly? However, if the smoker is left alone and he/she is allowed to see that not smoking is truly appealing, the smoker is likely to actively take the leap.

            We have a problem of the System acting as naggers, which is effectively keeping people sick. It works awfully well to keep folks out of commission.

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          • You’re edging awfully close to “behavioral addictions”, such things as “internet addiction”, “sex addiction”, “gambling addiction”, etc., and, need I say, I don’t think so.

            I tend to think the thing that makes these non-addictive behaviors addictive is being added to the DSM’s catalogue of “diseases”. People who believe, you might have noticed, believe with all their heart. It’s this belief that feeds the “mental illness” industry.

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    • I believe there were cases of anorexia in the 1800’s. And there was a guy in France would was known to not be able to stop eating. I literally cried when I read the Wikipedia article about him. It was heartbreaking. They ended up imprisoning him in a prison where (they say) he ate live rats. But this was not verified, so it may have been a rumor.

      There is a disorder that basically comes from your appetite center not working right, and that is called Praeder-Willi. It can usually be found alongside learning disorders and sometimes, but not always, mental retardation. It is detectable, something missing basically. You do not get a satiety signal, so you just keep going. I saw a YouTube on this and bawled my eyes out thinking of how these folks suffer. No it is not gluttony, it is a horror story.

      You bet I thought for a while I had PW. However, the main difference is that binge eating turns on and off. PW never turns off. I hope this speaks to the seriousness of BED, for anyone who doesn’t “get it.”

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  4. What would happen if you tried to control your eating habits? Would it cause you so much anxiety that you would only be able to relieve it if you ate?

    Maybe I’m being crude (and you have also mentioned “Sufferers have reported rude or sarcastic responses to their reports, and many are left feeling shamed or even afraid of bringing it up again.“), but it sounds like a lot of theorizing for the “simple” fact that you would eat way too much, had poor control over it, didn’t like that aspect of yourself, and don’t have a concrete answer as to why it all happened.

    Therapy (especially that directed at eating disorders), can turn into a manipulative game, each trying to outsmart the other. “What did you eat today?” It turns into a cat-and-mouse game that can become fatal. That’s how it was for me toward the end, and I almost died as a result.

    I think this is the case with all therapy. “Therapy” is nonsense. Just a fanciful word for listening and talking inside a closed room. No matter how many scientistic names you give it (CBT or what have you), it is fundamentally just that.

    I was lucky to put an end to all that nonsense. I have had good results by making very simple changes, starting with becoming independent from my prior doctors and therapists, and making my life decisions entirely on my own. I was surprised at how fast I was able to resolve my eating disorder after that. I would suggest doing your own research and empowering yourself to come up with your own solutions.

    Absolutely agree with this. You must break free of the mercy and charity of these people and their poisonous system, which will infantilise you and stultify your potential, all with good intentions.

    Being free of the slavery of therapy helped me take a good rational look at what was best for me.


    I knew I had to regain a sense of passion in my life, passion about something besides losing weight. Where had that gone off to? What had happened to the young and talented music student who first took herself to therapy in 1981 and then never came back?

    Yup. I think a lot of us look back to those times. When the whole world was still in front of you, and your life was not tainted by psychiatry.

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    • ED is usually caused by a restrictive diet, that is, CAUSED by controlling your eating habits. Does that answer your question?

      From what I recall, this being decades ago, you have to realize that in 1980 hardly anyone went on a diet. I didn’t grow up in a chronic dieting family either, nor did I grow up giving a hoot about weight nor about fashion. I never looked in the mirror nor cared about my appearance.

      I went on a diet for religious reasons. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. I didn’t have low self-esteem and I wasn’t depressed either. Come to think of it I wasn’t “anxious.”

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        • Yes true! I remember when I first tried “day treatment” back in 1981. I was the oddball there since no one there had really heard of ED. I heard the other clients talking about anxiety and depression. I listened with curiosity, trying to understand, but I honestly didn’t know what they were talking about when they said how much they needed pills.

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        • I notice you edited your comment, Lawrence, to include seizures as exception. For a while during my long stint with psych I was wondering if my binge eating episodes were caused by seizure activity. I really didn’t know for many years.

          In the late 1980’s a doc said I might have TLE. Then, in 2011, another neuro said the TLE was a false dx and any irregularities were drug-induced. I believe this was correct. I never had those symptoms and anything similar I now realize was the effect of ECT back in the 1990’s. Hindsight….

          As I state in the article I solved the entire eating disorder problem by getting myself as far away from psych and therapy as I possibly could.

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        • Lawrence I think most of the reason they almost always diagnose patients with concurrent psych disorders is because they want to drug us. They don’t have drugs for anorexia, so they tell us we’re depressed so they can give a cocktail of drugs. They even make excuses for giving Zyprexa. I’ve heard them telling kids that Zyprexa was “to calm you down” but really of course it was to induce weight gain in patients who weren’t gaining as fast as the insurance companies were demanding.

          They never acknowledged binge eating disorder until they had the designer drug. Back in 2013 I honestly didn’t realize this. Back then, I thought, “Oh, after all these years, they’ve finally listened.” Wow what a sucker I was. No, after all those years, they finally figured out how to make bucks off of us. And that’s the very sad bottom line.

          While statistically, more and more are getting ED, it’s also true that there’s financial interest in widening the ED umbrella. ED “treatment” is lucrative now. “Early detection” means more money for the ED prisons. We should be concerned because this is a human rights tragedy.

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        • Lawrence

          You said: ” And someone’s behavior, unless it’s the result of a real disease like seizures, is the result of their CHOICE.” [my emphasis]

          I completely disagree with this implied meaning; it falls into a “blame the victim” view of troubled behaviors prevalent throughout our society.

          For example, the most obvious disputed description of addiction, is that “addiction is a choice.” In fact, someone actually wrote a book with this title. Even though I agreed with the main themes of the book which were taking on the “disease” theory of addiction, I thought the title was terrible.

          When someone experiments with drugs at age 13, they are NOT making a choice to become an “addict.” “Yea, I think by the time I’m 21, I want to be totally dependent on heroin, living in the street and stealing for my next fix.”

          Addiction is a process, that may occurs over many years, and can sort of creep on some people BEFORE they really know what is happening to themselves.

          However, once someone becomes more fully aware of their addiction and begins to understand the possibility of recovery (or has experienced some period of abstinence) then, YES, further use of the substance (or a relapse), is a now clearly a Choice. They must understand (as an individual) that their ability to change is largely in their own hands, so to speak. Of course to rid society of addiction on a broader scale, will require major systemic changes in our overall society.

          If you don’t understand the difference I just outlined above you will fall into a “blame the victim” approach to describing society’s “symptoms” that manifest themselves in people’s behaviors.

          This same above description would apply to ANY of the so-called “mental disorders” and behaviors that get psychiatrically labeled, including “EDs.”


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          • Exactly, Richard. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I started the diet. I sure didn’t want to lose more than a few pounds. I had no plans beyond that. My first binge absolutely shocked me. I had no word for it, didn’t have the word “binge” in my vocabulary. And I didn’t know “eating disorder,” either, nor “anorexia” nor “bulimia.” This was not due to naivete, but because such things weren’t known back then. In 1980, remember, this was the year Ronald Reagan was elected, and the Vietnam War was fresh in our memories. Life was very different back then.

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          • Richard:

            Yes, I agree that kids are too young to know the potential harmful consequences of some choices, or to have yet developed the ability to delay gratifying their urges. It’s parents who have the choice of whether or not to effectively raise/educate their kids. And parents can choose to not leave bottles full of addictive pills lying around, to not provide a model of coping via addictive pills, and to not bring their kids to psychiatrists to start them on a path toward drug addiction.

            And I’m not “blaming victims”. I am just suggesting that people can choose to address their needs/struggles themselves, rather than buy into that they can’t because they are helpless disease victims.


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          • Lawrence, Do parents really know what their kids are up to? If I had been 10, yeah they would have noticed. At 16 I could have hidden it. At 22 when I started I was living far away and there was no reason for them to be worried. I called now and then and updated them on how college was going.

            As for “education,” no one dieted back then. What education was there to be had? No one had heard of ED. Know what we talked about in my house? Politics, going skiing, and Nixon’s resignation.

            You have to realize many people develop ED when they are older. Maybe even after their parents are no longer living. We aren’t all kids. You cannot blame parents.

            I think people need to know that extreme dieting CAN be very dangerous. It can be like doing a very addictive drug. You think you can stop. But suddenly you’re sucked into it.

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      • Julie writes: “ED is usually caused by a restrictive diet, that is, CAUSED by controlling your eating habits.

        Let me remove the ED and make it more truthful:

        Extreme overeating is usually caused by a restrictive diet, that is, CAUSED by controlling your eating habits.

        Most people who control their diet don’t engage in extreme over-eating to the point of it becoming physically dangerous even in the short term (as opposed to long term risks of cardiovascular problems etc.) as a result. We would all know at least a few people who have lost weight by regulating their eating. But none of the people I know (which would not be an enormous sample size) who have gone on long term diets ended up overeating to the point of 9000 calories a day.

        In my country, fasting for religious reasons is a common occurrence. People here do it all the time. Again, I’ve never seen anyone end up overeating in an extreme manner due to it. They may overeat for a short duration to ameliorate hunger, but not beyond a point.

        Why it took place in you as an individual would be interesting for you to know. Not in a vague manner with hypotheses or tautological labels, but the proper truth, specific to yourself. Hell, you don’t even need to tell anybody.

        Naturally, problems like this would be prevalent in the wider population. I’ve just never personally met anyone who is a binge eater to the point of it being dangerous on a day-to-day basis.

        Please don’t interpret this as being condescending. There are answers I am searching for with regards to my life as well.

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        • Yes, this is true. Data supports that usually religious fasts don’t cause eating disorders. I am sorry for the misunderstanding here. I didn’t go on a fast. I went on a restrictive diet that I found in a diet book. The difference is that mine was prolonged. Not that I planned this.

          My guess here is that the writer was figuring most would break the diet and not stick to it for very long, or at all. He claimed you’d lose weight rapidly. What I did was stick to it. I was really starving. I started in the beginning of July and stuck to it through the summer and into the fall. I was not actually overweight to start with.

          The religious part was the reason behind the diet, that is, it wasn’t to “get boys,” nor to look a certain way. I don’t think I owned a mirror even. I was in college, a music composition student. I think part of the reason no one believed me for so long is because I didn’t fit the stereotype.

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      • Julie

        You said: “I went on a diet for religious reasons. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist.”

        When I made my above comments about “obsessive” behaviors and discussed some of the psychological factors (especially as it pertains to women and trauma in our society), I was NOT trying to say this necessarily applied to YOUR particular story. Your blog tended to downplay psychological factors in response to the environment and I felt it was necessary to give some explanations where this could be the case.

        You have made a case for dieting to be a cause of so-called “EDs,” but overall for most women in society dieting flows out of some of the factors I discussed above about “standards of beauty” and the cultural pressures on women to be thin in this society. Do you not agree that this is a factor?

        And I would say that almost all “EDs” have some connection to the history and depth of patriarchy penetrating every pore of our society.


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        • Yes and no. People with ED vary. Many are men, too. And also, many are older people, even folks in their 60’s and 70’s who are suffering. You can even start ED late in life.

          Another new thing is these weight-loss surgeries. Actually I have known a few people who got the surgery, and then, developed ED! Also, new are the drugs, which can cause all sorts of ED’s. I have heard of purging disorder caused by drugs, anorexia, and many developing bulimia, all from psych drugs and other pharmaceuticals.

          Another thing I’ve been trying to work on is that the weight-gaining drugs like Zyprexa should never be given to anyone with a history of anorexia. I think there should be a black box warning. The reason is that unwanted weight gain from the drugs will later cause a rebound effect and the anorexia will return with a vengeance. This happened to me post-Seroquel, and studies show that these drugs can often do this.

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      • I think it is perhaps a mistake to say that “EDs” are caused by any one thing in particular. Every person is different, and the big error (if it is an error and not a tactic) made by psychiatry is to assume or pretend that all people who behave, feel or think in a particular way have something wrong with them, and in fact have the SAME thing wrong with them and need the SAME “treatment.” This sells drugs well, but does not serve their patients. I am certain that every case of “binge eating disorder” is different, having different causes, different needs, and different things to be done to help.

        That said, your comment about reconnecting with the passions of one’s life is a good recommendation for almost any condition one may have, regardless of the cause. While medical intervention may be temporarily needed or helpful, living a full life and engaging with the world on one’s own terms is what life is always about. I know that not everyone has the means or the capacity to do that, but I think that should be a primary target, if not THE primary target, of any psychological therapy/help that is offered.

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        • Psychiatry is very quick to call us rigid perfectionists. I have issue with this. I’ve even had therapists demand that I stop working hard at college! I can’t help it if I like the subject matter of the class!

          Another thing I had issue with was the fact that I like to run. They automatically assumed any exercise at all was OVERexercise. But for many, exercise is extremely helpful. It helped me to like my body more and to see food as fuel, not as the enemy.

          I’m happy to say that after I got those fools out of my life I have been free to run as much or as little as I want. I’m 60 years old and running a 5k in about a month. I look back on how they demanded that I stop running and I realize THEY had the control problems and foisted them on me.

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  5. I had an eating disorder long ago. It started out with my sister always worrying about her weight, so I started weighing myself. Maybe I wanted to be in solidarity with her. But I also had a lot of feelings of lack of self-worth. I was a hideaway binge eater. I remember that I would hardly eat anything for three days, then by the fourth day I’d eat a tremendous amount for my body weight and spend hours on the couch, my skin hot to the touch and feeling very sensitive and raw. I hid like this for a terribly long time. I went to an OA group one time, but couldn’t stay there. I felt uncomfortable. I was of normal weight. I went to therapy for awhile, but the woman had a hard time believing me.

    What stopped it was one day shortly after I was married. There was a turkey dinner, and I was eating the grease from the turkey and consuming a lot of food. I went upstairs to throw up (I didn’t usually do this) and heard a voice tell me that if I continued to do this, I would die. That voice made me so scared that I quit. However, I didn’t quit weighing myself. It wasn’t until I was hospitalized that I realized the uselessness of weighing. That was entirely freeing. I haven’t weighed myself since – almost 6 years ago. Yet my weight remains pretty much the same. I can tell by the jeans I wear. I don’t follow any diet.

    I think there can be a lack of self-worth in ourselves as people. I used to hear my family talk about so-and-so and what people looked like. It seemed that there was a great deal of interest in how someone looked and not in what they did. I internalized that. I put all my worth on a scale, and if the scale didn’t say a particular number, I was very depressed, many times prompting binges. It was all or nothing.

    I haven’t thought about this for years and at that time took no drugs for it. Personally, I think it’s best to go to someone to find out the source of the problem. I didn’t realize I had lots of rage and covered it up by eating, sedating myself, so that I wouldn’t have to confront my feelings. Feelings weren’t something that I could talk about with my family. Drugs, in my opinion, would have made me numb, but wouldn’t have solved the problem.

    A very good article, Julie, and I would hope that more people would be aware that, although a person is of normal weight, they could very well be a binge eater.

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    • Exactly. I know that many times while I was normal weight I had a harder time being taken seriously. “You look okay, what’s the problem?”

      You make a valid point about making that number on the scale so important, and equating it with self-worth. It is so hard to detach these two things. I do own a scale but I could take it or leave it. I think the word is desensitization, or something similar. I don’t see it as the Judge. I used to. I remember the number made it or broke it for me. Now, other things are more crucial. When we find things that are crucial that we care about more than that number, we’re on our way.

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        • To be honest after a while I began to realize “they” do not have the answers. I kept looking to them and asking, begging really. “If you have all the answers, why can’t you make me better?” I just got a shrug, or a pat answer like, “Follow your treatment plan.” I knew they just didn’t know.

          Incarceration can’t really solve it since you’re locked up and don’t have the opportunity to binge. For many, this actually is so darned ironic. You’re free while you’re locked up. You’re free from bingeing. I really thought this. For those two weeks I was free of that hell. Then, they’d let me out and it would start again. That was my life. My secret life because I couldn’t get anyone to understand. Even during the years they had no clue I had ED, I lied sometimes and made up some stuff about being suicidal even though I wasn’t, so that I wouldn’t have to go out again.

          When I finally got free of psych I was also free to experiment. Wildly. Many failed. Many had mixed results. I loved that I could do anything, mix up my food, try eating different ways, try different eating patterns, try out different mindsets, and even try out fad diet pills you could get over the counter (only the cheap ones).

          Just being free of it all helped so much. You would think that I would have gone wild with the bingeing, but that’s not at all what happened. I’d say I was free to find what worked with common sense and logic. I was free to figure out what I actually liked and didn’t like.

          I was free also to figure out that I actually like myself. I always did, but psychiatry wrecked it for me all those years. I liked myself before, but now, I like myself a whole lot better without the diagnoses to cloud up stuff. Being away from them I find I know myself a lot better. That is so important!

          There are things I can’t do, or don’t like doing, or just am not very good at. I have to face that. I am not superwoman, just me. Some things are too hard for me, and probably someone better skilled than I am should be doing those things. (Like reaching up to high places, since I’m so short.)

          And also, therapists used to tout “mindfulness” and “living in the present” which is a culturally-egocentric value in my opinion, and not for everyone, especially us older folk who thrive on our hindsight. We are good at storytelling. Let us tell our stories! Therapists should stop demeaning us for it, and stop complaining that we’re dwelling on the past. This is what us older, (wiser), folk do.

          Why pathologize it? My therapists pathologized what I got my degree in, writing memoir.

          My mom used to say we had to be good because she “had eyes in the back of her head.” Did she? I used to look, try to see in her hair. Really?

          She did. She had wisdom and hindsight. And we foolish kids couldn’t even see it. But that is okay, because now I do.

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        • I should add the following. I don’t know where this statistic comes from. Seventy-five percent of binge eaters are specifically addicted to sugar. I have heard that sugar addiction is so powerful it is more addictive than booze.

          I have known people to realize that their problem was sugar. Then, they realized all they had to do was to stay away from sweets. This really did solve it. However, if the sugar abstinence is then turned into another strict, rigid diet, the diet mentality then takes over and the purpose is totally defeated.

          This is likely why sometimes, meal plans fail, because a meal plan can be done so zealously that of course it’s the next diet. You then are set up to fail. I have known therapists to reinforce the setup!

          I am not addicted to sugar. I knew this early on. I do know (through experimentation) that I was likely addicted to some types of dairy food, and possibly my mother (who had ED many years before I was born) was also addicted to some dairy foods. For a while I started noticing that when I went grocery shopping, I was fine until I walked past the dairy aisle, then, all hell broke loose (and that was usually toward the end of my aisle-wandering).

          For some time, I was afraid to keep any food at all in the house. It was a matter of buying one meal at a time, just tiny quantities. I was so scared. Now I am proud to say those days are over. I can even purchase dairy food and leave it in the fridge and not worry.

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  6. Thank you for writing this Julie. My own feeling is that just like ~~Mental Illness~~ is made up, so too are ~~Eating Disorders~~. There is no illness, or disorder.

    Now, we know that there are many people eating in very dangerous and destructive ways. And this seems to be most with young women, and it seems related to the unrealistic ideals which the fashion and entertainment industry holds up. And then, the images of young women are used throughout our society to advertise most everything. This is done so much so, that the young women themselves are made into a market commodity.

    So while I say no disease, no illness, no disorder, my heart goes out to anyone who is eating in a harmful or destructive way.

    The world is unfair and unjust. But I also think that some sort of self exploration groups or discussion groups would be the best way to deal with it. The young women are not at fault. But if they don’t change their eating practices, they are likely to die. And you won’t hear me endorse anything which could be turned against the sufferers very often.

    As far as some kind of therapy, I don’t know. Usually they say that therapy works only when the therapist is more adventurous than the client, and this is not often.

    Listened to these two on the radio, this Lisa Himmel was really eating in a dangerous way, likely to have ended up in a nursing home. But her parents were the restaurant critics for the newspaper.

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    • Tireless I don’t have any statistics on this, but many people have told me that support groups helped them. They stated that being among others who experienced the same thing in itself was a relief. People told me OA and AA helped them, or an ED support group. I think there should be more of this. There should be more peer support, that is, people who actually went through the struggle.

      I have heard them say in facilities that it wouldn’t be a good idea. They keep saying we would “trigger” each other. Yes, it is BS. They’re just protecting their money I think. If we actually got better they’d lose their customers.

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  7. Hi Julie,
    I’m deeply sorry for all you had to go thru and all the hacks who made things so much worse for you. I’m glad you found a way to take your life back.

    If there’s something ‘nice’ about my wife’s d.i.d., it is that it is helps me chop the various issues we’ve had to deal with up into their respective ‘parts.’

    My wife’s host is the one who suffers most from ED issues. For her there were a couple of issues going on. 1) It was a matter of control: she couldn’t control the trauma or current events, but she could control her weight. 2) It was a matter of HATING every imperfection with her body…and as we both have hit our 50’s that has only increased. And 3) it was a matter that she literally does NOT feel hunger. What so many don’t understand is that when people begin dissociating they only can access part of their mental functions. My wife’s host simply doesn’t feel hunger pangs.

    However, as the other 7 girls joined us on the outside, and as they began to heal and mature, they acted as a counter measure to the host’s imbalances. The little girls are DEEPLY connected to the body and will nearly cry if they feel hungry…and so as they have all become more connected, my wife’s host can no longer simply ignore being hungry. And some of the girls have a GREAT self body image. One of my ‘girlfriends’ who views herself as a Millenial told me one time, “I look damn good for 50!” And she does, indeed, and so as she and my wife’s host become better connected, all the negative self talk the host tells herself is being counterbalanced by some of the other girls’ great self image. And the same goes for the control issue. As I have helped each girl heal and empowered them to spread their wings and grab life for all they can, they no longer are overwhelmed by the feeling of no control from the trauma. They’ve moved on from their trauma paradigm in many ways.

    edit: oh, and I guess I should add that I have taught all the girls to work together when it comes to eating and weight. The little girls love to eat and last winter they gained nearly 15 pounds which about sent my wife’s host into a tailspin, but I help them work together so they are respectful of the host’s desire to maintain her weight. I find them food they can enjoy but which is low-cal and low-fat, and so they all work to maintain a weight that is more than the host would desire and yet is a weight that she can tolerate, and when it gets above that limit then all the girls will join together to get it back into the range to which they have all agreed.

    Take care,

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    • Hi Sam, From what I know and have observed, after anorexia many people experience either lack of hunger signals or an abundance of hunger. For those who do not yet experience any hunger there are various strategies that I have heard might work. One is simple discipline, which will work for those who thrive on discipline and orderliness. You might tell yourself you will eat at noon and then, eat at noon. Or, you might say, “I will eat after I finish this assignment.” And you might “reward” yourself after eating with something else, something pleasurable. Pick anything

      For many, though, discipline can backfire, especially when too much rigidity has been a problem.

      You just have to ask yourself where you are on the “organized” spectrum. Some folks find beat themselves up so much, while others do not know where to begin to discipline themselves in terms of managing their eating.

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  8. If doctors were serious about helping those with eating disorders they really should focus on their digestive system (especially the intestines) rather than the brain. It may be an effect and not a cause, but people with BED lack microorganisms needed in the gut. Probiotics can really help.

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    • Indeed, Feelin, I have heard from some people that probiotics were extremely helpful and even curative. I didn’t find them helpful but that’s just me and that doesn’t mean another person shouldn’t give them a shot. Compared to Vyvanse….we’re not looking at a Black Box Warning of violence, suicide, and psychosis from taking them.

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  9. When we look at the word Fat, it is a nutrient but has another meaning in English and this becomes problematic. People start to restrict fats or fear eating foods high in fat. Funny, though, in other languages, this double-meaning isn’t there. You wouldn’t use the word aciete to describe a person. It’s oil, as in olive oil.

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  10. Julie, thank your for posting your article and for replying to me. Actually after I submitted my reply I thought about editing it, while there was still time. But it is actually better that my original submission is up, because I want now to back pedal and alter some of what I have said.

    I might sound like I am endorsing psychotherapy or recovery groups. That was not really my intent.

    Also, I would never tell anyone that they ‘need therapy’, doing that is totally unacceptable. I hope it didn’t come across as my meaning that. I did not.

    So I say there is no such thing as ~eating disorders~. But having said that there are people who are eating in destructive ways. And I guess there are acute versions of this, and there are also chronic versions of this. Much of the population, including myself, would be in this second category.

    So though I am opposed to psychotherapy and the concept of recovery, if someone is doing binge eating or something else highly destructive, and they say they want psychotherapy or recovery, then I am not going to block their way. This was all I meant.

    But what do I really thing would be best? Well to me it seems like a coming of age issue, and the vast majority of this applying to young women.

    So then first of all, I would say that the behavioral therapies are worthless and just self torture.

    Second, this is a book which I have not read, but it has long seemed like it is one intended to get at the coming of age issues for young women, and especially based on the insight that the issues are not with these women themselves, but rather are about the hypocrisy of the world they live in.,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

    And so what drives these body image issues? As I know it is the fashion and entertainment industries, and the unrealistic ideals they promote. It is also just that images of young women are used to advertise most everything. And then some would say that it is also just the way men think about women.

    Now, of that above list, it is unlikely that anyone is going to be able to change much of it.

    But I want to stand on what I have previously laid out, that the alternative to the self denigration and lies of psychotherapy and recovery is political consciousness raising and political activism.

    And also, I have years ago talked about this with others. As I see it, most every society has always used sexualized images of young women in a symbolic way. And really when you get to primitive societies it is not really images, it is the young women themselves.

    The way it is for us is the product of Capitalism. And as Deleuze and Guattari tell us, Capitalism works by overcoding, and by the creation of images. So I would say that the pagan religious sexualization is being appropriated and turned into something quite different.

    So a pagan society would celebrate sexual desire. And the standards for female beauty in such a face two face context would be much broader than the standards would be the creation of images in our Capitalist society. The way it is in our society actually creates sexual frustration.

    So we have to look to the young women themselves who are engaging in destructive patterns of eating. Where do they think attention should be focused? Where is the bogeyman which is causing all of this?

    Say for example, an adolescent girl is expected to come of age in a social box which is just too small because it is filled with deep contradictions and heavy doses of hypocrisy. So it turns into an unworkable situation, and such destructive eating patterns ensue.

    As I see it, that is what this book is about, the deep contradictions and hypocrisy:,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

    The remedy would then be to let her work with others, not therapy or recovery, but shoulder to shoulder with others who are taking political action, striking back at the bogey man.

    So we have a Capitalist society which has the fashion and entertainment industries, and advertising, and then just the ways men are taught to view women. And then as a product of this you have the idea created that sex is available for a man only if he has lots and lots of money, and for a woman only if she meets some very unrealistic ideals.

    But in fact this last premise is not really true. People with lots and lots of money are more often than not very guarded and cautious people. There is more sex for those at the lower levels of our socioeconomic ladder, more in bohemian enclaves, and in outcast enclaves. Sex is revolutionary when it attacks societal standards and expectations. So the Capitalist representation is not real sex. But it is also not really factual either.

    So then, those wishing to fight back against these forces in our society, they could first of all show women doing things which are not based on image or sex appeal, all sorts of things, intellectual things, artistic things, all manner things. And these should not have to be moralistic, puritanical. And then also, they could fight back against this linking of sex to images and unrealistic standards and to great wealth, via real sex.

    I’ve always been impressed with and entertained by:

    So in my view, as with everything else, I believe that once one learns that they are needed in the trenches of political activism, instead of in their therapist’s office, that then their supposed ~illnesses~, ~disorders~, and ~addictions~ would evaporate.

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    • Tireless, I agree, I do not use the word “recovery” either, mainly because it has been co-opted by other groups. I don’t use the word “recovering.” To me, what I am currently recovering from, in all seriousness, is the abuse I endured during my last few years in the MH System when I was in my 50’s. Much of it consisted of their attempts to silence me as I was emerging from decades of fraudulent psych diagnosis claim. This is an ongoing process for me, and a very difficult one.

      I agree, too, that the objectification of women is somehow linked to capitalism. We must realize, however, that ED is not exclusively a women’s or girls’ problem. When a man has ED the issue is compounded since if he tries to get “help” he is not likely to be believed nor taken seriously since it’s seen as a teenage girls’ problem.

      To call it a disorder or not? Yes, I do. I do not call it a psych disorder, though. I consider it outside of the psych realm. We have seen ED portrayed in the media for so long as psych, and we’ve seen it linked to psych, and patients are told over and over that “it’s all in your head.”

      Is high blood pressure psych? What if psych decided it was? They’ve put smoking addiction under their umbrella, why not high blood pressure? Why not heart attack, since they can get far-fetched and claim “stress” causes it? I actually saw that happen to a person! Why not claim kidney disease is psych since kidney disease makes you tired (from anemia). How about those dubious ones like Irritable Bowel and Fibro? Haven’t we seen that, too? When I was in the nuthouse (McLean) they told me my cracked tooth was not cracked, but it hurt me because I was grinding my teeth at night without my knowledge, due to “anxiety.” They tried to give me Haldol for that (this effectively delayed my getting the tooth pulled until it was badly infected).

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      • Well, Julie, you may have noticed that if you have “high blood pressure” or “high cholesterol,” you are told by your doctor that if you do not submit to their treatments you will die a rapid and horrible death.

        I’ve conquered the psych’s control over me – now I must battle my way into old age with the doctors. Going to a doctor is like arming for engagement – knowing what the labs mean, understanding the treatments and presenting alternatives before they nail me with bad drugs and bad ideas (like surgeries or intervention).

        Just last week (back pain) I was bullied by a neurosurgeons office for refusing to meet with him. He sent me a letter of refusal and cc’d it to the referring GP. “This is to inform you that JC has refused to meet with me regarding her back pain.” This letter followed about 4 calls – which I interpreted at harassment – to schedule the appointment.

        So – beware – your doctors are “out to get you,” too. Cardiologist, surgeons – they all have a “better plan” for you. Sigh.

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        • JC, I had the same problem with a bullying ophthalmologist. I had to be firm. “I am seeking a second opinion.” Mainly because I did not want this jerk operating on my eyes! Also, I am afraid of doctors after what happened to me. The guy called me stupid and put that in my records. When it came time to go back I called them and told them I had relocated and no longer had need for their…ahem…”services.”

          Also, when I went to get glasses, the glasses were done wrong. I had to be firm. The bifocal line was put in the wrong place. A month later, they produced the right glasses and made double sure that line was right.

          If anything ever hurts the last person I’m going to call is a doctor. That’s asking for trouble. I just wait a few days.

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  11. Frank if you had been through an ED I am sure you would say differently. If you had been through psychiatry’s total inept “treatments” and therapy’s irrelevant solutions year after year, and been through their scare tactics and ineffective imprisonments over and over, only to find yourself starving again and again, I think you would have an entirely different opinion.

    Psychiatry and therapy have no relevance to ED, and have no answers. This IS about the food, which is a substance. ED is about starvation and its consequences. I wish I had known, and bypassed the MH System altogether.

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    • Well Julie. That’s why I began commenting the way I did. I made my first comment which was just a friendly remark about my experience and my dad suggesting I take medicine after many years of refusing.

      That’s when several comments arrived and Frank insulted my parents and I. My dad served in Vietnam and then went to school which I greatly respect so I’m glad I listened to him.

      I didn’t really belong here since my initial comment.

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  12. And another thing….Many people have been shocked that if I say it’s not a mental health issue I am ALSO saying it’s not serious. NO WAY! These are not the same statement. It doesn’t have to be a mental health issue to be “serious.” Having come very close to dying of this thing, I am well aware of the seriousness of ED’s. You do not die of depression or schiz. Your brain won’t implode from thinking or having a feeling. You die of ED’s because you die from starving or electrolyte imbalance or dehydration, and many people are dying at a seriously alarming rate. Or you die in treatment because they refeed too fast. I recall a while back three people I knew died in the same week. It is very very scary.

    Still, I wish it wasn’t at all in the DSM. I wish it wasn’t treated by MH professionals. I wish they would butt out of the ED field altogether and leave it to nutritionists and other types of specialists, especially peers, folks like us. Peers are the real experts, people who have been through ED. This IS about the food, it’s about that first diet you ever went on. It’s about the reasons, if you can ever dig them up. It’s about acknowledging it, and moving on.

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  13. I am wondering where the ED community is….Are they going to respond? I used to be active in such communities, not that I was exactly welcome. I always felt like an oddball. Then when I started talking about human rights they didn’t want me around. Almost like I was a leper. They were quite eager to kick me out or silence me.

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  14. And something I want to say to people with ED who may be reading this. You DO have choices. I know you didn’t choose to have an ED. I did not. You do choose to go back to those so-called “professionals” again and again when you know “treatment” fails you over and over. Why keep going back? Why not take a different path or try something new? Why not trust yourself? Why keep believing these doctors?

    Believing them, and continuing to go back, that you do have control over. It is your choice when you go back and go back. You are not a failure. They have failed you. It isn’t even treatment. It is imprisonment and taking away of your rights, and you do not have to choose to return to that. You can choose to live your life. You can choose instead to find something to be passionate about instead of going back. That, exactly, is how to get over ED.

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  15. Julie, thank you for posting your article and for replying to me. I do not go along with the idea of ~eating disorders~.

    But when you find people who are eating in self-destructive and dangerous ways, isn’t it usually true that it is young women?

    And is it true that it is more common amongst the white, well-off suburbanites, instead of with low income inner city ethnics? I would suspect yes, but I really do not know.

    To me it seems like a coming of age issue, living in a very small box of contradictions and manipulations.

    And is it also true that it is highly correlated to the young woman living with her parents and being a sexual virgin?

    The mother daughter book I posted of was people living in the very prestigious Palo Alto CA, and at one of the most prestigious high schools in the country, Henry Gunn High School, and they talked about this in the interviews and in the book.

    Do you agree with me that a behavioral approach is non-sense?

    So that usually leads to the psychoanalytic view. But the alternative to this is the political consciousness and political activism approach. Does this make sense?

    Other than Capitalist objectification of women via images, and non-sensical double standards, what else do you think contributes to it?

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    • Hi Tireless, Unfortunately, since many people keep their ED’s secret we don’t have accurate statistics on it. I have seen the most insane “studies” passing as “accurate.” For instance studies done in girls’ dormitories at boarding schools…How is this a cross-section of the general population? Sadly, men get ED, too. I have spoken to men with ED and they tell me it is very hard to come out of the closet.

      With men it can happen just like it happened with me. Many men even seek “treatment” such as therapy and pills and end up “treated” for mental disorders but the ED never gets addressed…and this can go on and on for decades. I know several men and women both in such a situation. With men, it is harder since they are less likely to be believed nor taken seriously.

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    • Becky, Yes! I know Jeanine and I support and agree with her work. There are so few of us out there who are at the point of realizing that these “rehabs” do nothing but use force and coercion and take your money. Years ago there was no money in ED, now, of course, there is. And because there’s money, the ED organizations are pushing for “awareness” to get more customers. But as soon as folks like me speak out we are silenced. The fact that BED ended up in the DSM is all money.

      None of this has anything to do with the fact that people really do suffer, and we’ve been suffering for a long time. MIA readers need to be aware that the ED treatment centers are separate from psych hospitals and the human rights violations at the inpatient level are far worse. They are also more expensive, on the whole.

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      • “MIA readers need to be aware that the ED treatment centers are separate from psych hospitals and the human rights violations at the inpatient level are far worse.”

        I’ve witnessed some pretty atrocious stuff in MH units. What are these violations, and have you documented any of them?

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        • Yes, I have tried to alert the MIA community and tried back in Massachusetts. No one seems to realize that ED’s are treated separately from psych or different “protocol” are used. Bathrooms are locked and often, patients are monitored in the bathroom, or even watched while peeing or defecating. Or asked to say the alphabet. Some patients are watched while showering, not allowed to shower or do anything in the bathroom alone. This is terribly traumatizing. They are force-fed via tubes, which is rape in some locales, depending on the legal definition and whether the tube is forced. Some have the tube in for a month or more, and some are monitored via 1:1 to make sure they do not take the tube out. I know from first hand experience that some of the 1:1 people can be abusive, even physically abusive or verbally. I have heard reports of sexual abuse from patients. I have also heard multiple reports of tying patients down, even tying children down, or tying them in the day room, or tying them to wheelchairs, or, demanding that they stay in bed all day. I have seen patients with total muscle atrophy due to forced “bed rest.”

          Force-feeding can lead to refeeding syndrome, which often cannot be cured and leads to patient death. You will have to look this one up. Refeeding syndrome is usually caused by “treatment.” The hospitals are very scared of this. It is potential lawsuit material. Because they are so scared they abuse patients in their utter fear.

          I was deprived of water at Massachusetts General Hospital while in “treatment” for anorexia in 2011. I ended up traumatized and have really never gotten over it. They never acknowledged fault nor apologized. Instead, they tried to put me in a state hospital.

          More and more ED patients are put in state hospitals. When I called NEDA about this a few years ago trying to help out my friends they said they don’t do anything about it.

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          • Another thing: Patients develop secondary problems due to ED, such as osteoporosis (leading to broken bones and growth problems if the osteoporosis happens in childhood), stomach problems, all sorts of digestive difficulties, inability to get pregnant, birth defects, heart trouble, on and on.

            When a person has stomach or digestive problems it means they literally cannot eat or can’t eat certain types of foods. Or can’t chew or swallow. It gets very complicated. I have known people who get so physically ill that at that point these physical problems are so important that I think the psychiatrists need to butt out. For instance, if your electrolytes are totally off, or your blood sugar is nil, you can’t think straight and I don’t think this is time for a psych eval, nor time for a diagnosis. In fact, it’s never time for a diagnosis. And yet, they insist. I think they are hard up for customers.

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          • MGH’s explanation for depriving me of water was that it was their standard ED protocol, that all their ED patients had to follow it. So all the ED’s that came to their unit had to be limited to 32 ounces per day regardless. I have diabetes insipidus, which is a rare medical condition meaning that I need far more water than that just to stay alive. Limited to 32 ounces I will become quickly dehydrated after a few days, which was what happened. My real need is six times that amount, which they claimed was a psychological addiction. By the 11th day, of course, I feared for my life. I was very scared and begging for water. I was trying to sneak some, too, but they were threatening me and physically abusing me. You have to realize when you are medically compromised (I was dehydrated upon admission) it makes it much, much more frightening. This was 2011 and I left very traumatized. The trauma was denied by my providers and mistaken for mania.

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          • “Standard Protocol” – Jeez! This is why it is really, really dangerous to have these things viewed as “medical diseases.” They start acting like they have some scientific handle on how to “treat” it and your opinions stop meaning anything at all. This is horrific – they almost killed you! I hope you are someday in a position to sue their asses!

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          • Yes! I found it was not too difficult, once I got the hang of it. If you do not want to be labeled, do not go to a psychiatrist or MH professional. Do not act like a mental patient, do not call yourself one, do not use their language, act responsibly and when in the presence of medical professionals, don’t admit that you ever went there. Get away from anyone who calls people by mental illness labels. Make this a habit and you will not be labeled yourself.

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          • Steve I tried to sue MGH but I was so traumatized that it was hard to get anyone to believe me at first. It was hard to get myself back together. I was kinda crazed, scared to death over what they had done. A similar “case” occurred in the UK a year later to a man who had diabetes insipidus from a brain tumor. He actually phoned the cops, which was appropriate…anyway, he died of dehydration. This was 2012. It was called a human rights outrage. Me? I was called crazy for it. And yet, it was the same thing. Same abuse. Yes they could have killed me and one big THANK YOU for validating me.

            My own doctor denied what had occurred and begged me to stop blogging about it. She threatened me and told me she was drugging me to force me to stop writing. The abuse just never stopped. So you can see why I finally left the country.

            Even then, a lot of people refused to believe me and claimed I was psychotic. Some people even said the “unit” I was held on at MGH didn’t exist. Wow, they just didn’t know the real truth.

            The statute of limitations is past but that I know of, the fact that I keep writing about it smears their reputation badly enough. Writing is powerful, and it pisses them off plenty.

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      • Nowadays, mental illness is taken seriously and the ED community is fighting to be included into the MI category and I do not support that. The ED community, including NEDA/BEDA and other ED organizations have made a point of not including me (BEDA/NEDA kicked me out of their conference last year!). They do not like human rights activists apparently.

        I don’t know how Pat defines disease. I personally see ED’s as something very real that people suffer from. Just because people suffer does not mean it has to be a “disease.” One does not mean the other (although we, as a society, are conditioned to believe this). I have been accused by the ED community of denying the severity of ED’s because I have stated that ED is not a mental disorder.

        I am waiting for the ED community to respond to this article. I tried Tweeting but I am not adept at Twitter. My tweets seem to disappear.

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        • Hi Julie. I didn’t know there was an “ED community.” Back when I “was anorexic” I don’t think I would have wanted to be part of any such community, and today I for sure wouldn’t want to.
          In fact, anorexia removed me from society even more than I already was. When you can’t eat with other people, then you are so obviously different, so you avoid people – at least, that was my experience, though I was already quite different in many ways before, as well.
          I agree that “EDs” can appear simply as a result of dieting. Studies have shown this result when people were forced into semi-starvation. But I think that there can be a lot more to it as well. There is a definite sense of “reward” from starving oneself that is very satisfying in a way. Being constantly hungry can be similar to being on a high. I don’t think people start starving themselves to get that feeling – who would guess that being hungry can be so “enjoyable”? – but once you’re in it, it’s one of the things that keep you there.
          I think also that one of the big motivators is feeling that one has to earn the right to exist, that one doesn’t have a natural, inborn right to live and thrive. For me, I trace that back to my parents’ ambivalence about bringing a child into the world that would cost them so much money, though of course I can never prove that, as they are hardly likely to admit to such feelings. Therefore, “anorexics” will “earn” the right to eat by exercising first, by starving all day in order to “deserve” an evening meal, etc. Of course this is not really conscious at the time. These are things I realized many years later.
          About the “perfectionism”: I definitely wanted to feel that “I was all right.” Not perfect in general, but perfect within the tiny little box of eating-exercise regimen that I set up around myself. Nothing else in the entire world interested me in those years. Of course it was an artificial, delusional construct that makes absolutely no sense at all, but there it is. Perhaps it is similar to the person “with OCD” who “knows that everything’s okay as long as I wash my hands 20 times an hour.” I don’t know.
          I see that I was blessed to have lived in England during those years, not the US, because pills were not given to anorexics then. Maybe they are now, I don’t know. I do know that part of me wanted to be forcibly fed, because then I would not have to justify my food consumption and could feel at ease in the sensation of eating and becoming satiated. Of course, that would not have cured the underlying problems, although perhaps regaining a more normal weight would have allowed my brain to function more capably.
          Therapists – so useless, and I am blessed that the only therapist I had was not worse than useless. He just let me talk and took notes. The nurse weighed me, and that was it. Nobody noticed that my “weight gain” was faked by drinking increasingly more cups of water each time – up to 18 I think. When I reached 18 cups and my weight “didn’t increase” I first contemplated suicide. Because now I would have to tell my parents (I was 17) and something unknown and scary would happen. In the end, I told them, and the result was that I was under house arrest, but an arrest so imperfect that I found it easy to break out every single day, in order to exercise compulsively. I hated deceiving my parents, hated lying to them, hated being “forced” to exercise and to avoid eating when I was so hungry – but the alternative was too scary to contemplate.
          The alternative? Was unknown. It meant knowing how to live spontaneously and not feel guilty about it. What if I ate too much? I would be “all wrong” and feel so flawed. In my delusional system, I “knew I was okay” if I exercised a certain amount, ate no more than a certain amount. Anything outside that would make me “not okay.” And being “not okay” was worse than death.
          How does one get from there to here? It’s really hard to know, although one incident stands out in my mind. It was during a class in a post-high school program. The teacher asked me a question, and I couldn’t remember the answer and sat there in silence. One of my classmates turned round to me with such an expression of sympathy on her face – this was over 20 years ago and I remember it so well. I have no idea why, but I am convinced that her caring about me – and we weren’t even really friends – was a turning point that made me feel somehow worthy.
          Were my parents so evil that they never made me feel worthy? Not in an obvious way at all, and not intentionally either. However, it’s not good enough for parents to say, “I didn’t know.” They should be trying harder to figure things out when it becomes obvious that one or more of their kids has a problem. They should look to themselves as the source. I write this as a parent who tries to practice this myself. Not in order to place blame, but in order to take responsibility and do something about it.
          Of course “society” is also “to blame” in the sense that it’s a tough world out there. But I think 99% starts at home with “good enough” (or not) parenting. And that might include relocating to a community with more healthy norms if the place where one lives is not conducive to bringing up healthy, adjusted children (whatever that means). (And yes, finding a place where women are not objectified and there is no pressure to be thin is not easy, but it is possible. And the pressure to be thin is certainly only a small part of the story of anorexia.)
          There’s so much more, but this comment is too long already.
          I hope that one day, I might be able to help someone else with what I’ve learned.

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          • Julia, Yep, pretty much. I remember a lot of that. Being boxed into that mini-world. Except I didn’t have it as a child, in fact it didn’t start until I was well into college, oddly.

            I didn’t end up with the forced weigh-in until I already had diabetes insipidus, decades later, which is a condition that involves needing to drink a lot of water anyway. So that complicated the water-drinking part. What a game! If I didn’t drink, I ended up dehydrated. If I did, I was accused accused accused, just for doing what I needed to to do. The only solution was to end the forced weigh-in. One therapist agreed (suddenly realized I was an adult) but the other didn’t seem to realize I was over 50. Can they not do math? Wow I really hated that. I hated getting into the johnny, the ritual of it.

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      • I read the title of her article and was trying to better communicate with Julie rather than debate. I’m not someone who needs to be in the know each and every time.

        I’ve made a decision to be more into dialogue than controversy.

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        • A dialogue often involves asking interested questions, Pat. I am really interested in knowing how YOU personally decide if something is a disease or not. It’s actually a very interesting philosophical question, certainly worthy of intelligent dialogue, IMHO.

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  16. Julie, I see your point that since dangerous and unhealthy eating practices are often kept secret, it is difficult to have good statistics.

    Suppose you knew of someone and had regular contact with that person and you knew that they were doing dangerous eating. Lets say it involved ‘purging’. I see that as significant, taking it beyond just overeating or bad diet.

    What would you do? I assume that you would not send them to a psychotherapist.

    For me, I would suggest to them political consciousness raising and political activism. And for a girl this would be the Guerrilla Girls.

    This deals with women in art, but it is also about body image and roles. It is feminism, but it is not that anti-sex puritanical feminism. That was used in order to obtain the vote. But it also still exists in anti-porn crusades and in conjunction with religion.

    Gurerrilla Girls is more pro-sex feminism, drawing from Existentialism and from Marxism. They have a great deal in common with the Russian girls, Pussy Riot.

    A woman’s body image is one thing when being compared to the advertising and entertainment industries. But very different when it comes to real sex.

    As far as political consciousness raising, I mean like here in this fictionalized telling:

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    • Tireless since I didn’t purge I do not have lived experience with it, however, perhaps it is something that a person can decide for herself and ask the following question…Am I doing this out of habit, or, am I doing this because my body demands that I do this? It is highly possible that the body prepares to purge upon sensing certain cues, and actually gets the stomach ready by increasing stomach acid, or possibly gagging on cue. I know people who told me this happened very easily for them, and often when they didn’t want it even. So the person would have to ask these questions and face them very honestly. And then, be prepared to work hard on stopping. It is a difficult battle since the body wants to continue with it after you’ve been doing this for a long time.

      I know from experience that many people develop a disliking toward the feeling of fullness to the point that it becomes intolerable…and you have to work up to tolerating it again. This takes much hard work and patience.

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  17. From my admitted arm chair vantage point, it all seems like a coming of age issue.

    Lawrence Kelmenson talks about ~Bipolar Disorder~ and links it to adolescence.

    I’m seeing this is a predominantly male matter.

    So the ~Bipolar~ and ~Eating Disorders~ could be coming of age issues, mostly problems coming from being blocked from adulthood. And this blockage would be by virtue of the lies, hypocrisy, and conflicting values, and usually from having been made the family scapegoat.

    If you want to say that this dangerous eating is caused by nothing, then that does support a medical or behaviorlist model.

    I am more inclined to see it all as related to exploitation, that is, being used.

    This guy is too conservative for me, but his is an outstanding book, and you don’t need to have the latest edition. I spent lots of time reading this and it really made me think.

    He exonerates adolescents from the usual criticisms, showing how it is just because of the strange world they are forced to live in. And remember, adolescence is an invention of the industrial era. And how long it lasts depends on how well of the parents are. Adolescence turns into a bigger hell the longer it goes on.

    If you knew someone eating self-destructively, what would you do or suggest?

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  18. All power to you Julie. You won.

    It is abhorrent to me, that, here in the UK, tax payers money is going to pay psychiatrists and consultant psychiatrists while they perversely drug their patients into an early death and at the same time are asking for more money. And the public – thanks to the MSM media – are largely unaware of how abusive, corrupt and corrupting all this is.

    The corrupting is now venturing into the art world. Recently I became aware of a play about a child diagnosed with ‘severe mental illness’ placed on psych drugs and who wants to come off them at age 18. The real aim of this play is to normalise the drugging of children in the minds and belief of people who are psychiatrist and psych drug naive.

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    • Personally, I think there should be places in every country where all prescription drugs are legal for the residents of that place. No need to ship them outside.

      This will allow people who want to take or try whatever it is they want to whilst completely avoiding psychiatry and it will also the first step towards giving them freedom from psychiatric coercion when they want to stop taking them.

      Bad idea? I don’t think so. Perhaps the question is, “What if people take something that is damaging to them?”. Well, if they harm themselves by not gathering the required information first, the responsibility lies with them. What about harming others? Well, sufficient information must be provided regarding the adverse effects of these drugs so that they can understand how to use them or not use them.

      Since the general public might want to stay out of such a place, that’s fine. Just limit such areas to some places. These places will be places where psychiatry can be completely bypassed and must be kept out of.

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      • I agree totally, Registered. People are smarter than psychiatry thinks. People can decide for themselves IF they have access to information. We do not need the middlemen called psychiatrists, who only lie to us and give us limited information. We should be allowed to take full responsibility for our decisions. Psychiatry does not take responsibility when it screws up, after all! It blames the patient when its drugs, prescribed by the lying middlemen, fail.

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  19. Hi Julie- just wondering, what’s your opinion on early childhood attachments/ bonding and “addictions” later in life? Early childhood trauma was brought up, and I personally do believe child abuse (sexual, physical, neglect, poor attachments with caregivers in infancy/ early childhood) can be a factor in addictions/ addictive behaviors later in life, and was wondering what your take on that is?

    Also I do think with binge eating specifically, it can be medical. Food allergies and intolerances, for example, can really mess you up in so many ways. Gut health was mentioned earlier, and leaky gut syndrome / lack of vitamin and mineral absorption can lead to malnutrition and make you feel hungry all the time. Also dysregulated insulin levels can do that to you. Thyroid problems, etc. You end up craving and over eating the very foods that are making you feel horrible, it’s a vicious cycle. I’ve had some weight gain myself for those very reasons, and once the medical stuff was straightened out, the weight regulated itself. I do like a product called Swedish Bitters, it helps regulate your taste buds and helps with digestion. It’s been around since the 1500s, apparently the “bitter” taste isn’t really part of the average diet anymore, and once you get accustomed to it again, sugary food are a turn off. I personally have found it does help.

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    • Lenora…Yes, yes, and yes. I have found that many people who align with addiction model did indeed suffer childhood trauma, but we have to be careful not to stereotype or make assumptions the other way around. I think people have to decide for themselves if the model is helpful. A therapist cannot say, “You have an addiction, therefore, you must have had a rotten childhood.” See the difference? These things must be realized ourselves, like an awakening, because that way, we empower ourselves.

      I agree also that food problems such as celiac (for instance) which really creates malnutrition. There are many variations of this malnutrition and various ways we don’t get what we need, mostly without even knowing it. Also, if you found something that works, GOOD! I support finding things that work! I support self-experimentation! Try out new methods and find out what works FOR YOU! I honestly don’t think relying on “standard protocol” is going to be successful for most of us.

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  20. I have heard so many “me too” stories in response to this article. People have written to me telling me of how they were sent to ED “treatment” (or took themselves there) and how then this “treatment” then negatively affected their lives due to trauma. I know that those of us who take a human rights stance on ED treatment are not some tiny minority! I know that many are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation or fear that they will be refused medical treatment for other conditions, or will be shunned in some fashion. There is much pressure to remain silent on the human rights abuses in ED. I hope that people can speak out, because these abuses keep people sick in their ED’s, keep people playing those control games. It is a terrible cycle to get caught up in.

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  21. Julie, do you see that self destructive patterns of eating are primarily the result of living in just too small of a social space, too many contradictions, and too much hypocrisy, and not seeing anyway to do anything about it?

    From the Milan School of Family Systems Therapy:

    Shouldn’t be hard to obtain the book, as their group has been so extremely influential. They have showed how things work in families, and what it is which is so different about middle-class families.

    I’m not endorsing psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, but I do think you need to understand the insights and understanding generated. But then instead of going the route of recovery and healing, the Uncle Tom route, instead put those insights and that understanding into direct political and legal action.

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  22. Tireless, ED’s are not a “middle class” issue. Stereotypically, ED’s affect the affluent, however, statistically ED’s affect people from all backgrounds. People can develop ED’s later in life and even during elder years. I don’t see ED as necessarily a “family” issue especially when a person has left the nest decades ago. Also frequent among elders is laxative abuse or at least habitual laxative use. After 50 or 60, when a person has anorexia it is so easy to misdiagnose as early Alzheimer’s, which means spending the last years of one’s life in a nursing home likely drugged and tied into a chair. One of my elderly neighbors who was at least 80 was a compulsive exerciser. She was also being abused by her daughter. She wasn’t thin. When we think “eating disorder” we see a stick thin teen and we don’t think of elders, but I have known elders who suffered, either lifelong, or developed it late in life, and I was an elder anorexic myself. I don’t see “family” as being the cause nor answer to anorexia for those of us who are older. And in fact when I was 23 and living on my own, “family therapy” was irrelevant, destructive to our family, scary for my teenage siblings, bewildering for my parents, and really a complete waste of time. Except maybe profitable for the therapists, i don’t know.

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  23. So do you think there should be any recommended remedy or response to destructive eating patterns?

    And I assume that you know that ours in not a society which just stands by and watches people die. If someone is incapacitating themselves, then eventually they will be loaded into an ambulance and delivered to a hospital, and there consent will not even be sought.

    And things being as they are, they stand a good chance of ending up on a psych ward, and getting drugged.

    Is this okay with you? If not, how would you like to see it changed?

    I take it that you do believe that there is such a thing as ~Eating Disorders~. But you must know that that sounds a great deal like the idea that there is such a thing as ~Mental Illness~. Do you want to alter this, or are you happy with how it is?

    In the example I showed you from a mother daughter book, this was in one of countries most prestigious residential communities, and with one of the most demanding high schools in the country, Palo Alto CA’s Henry Gunn High School. And it had recently become famous because of a string of teenage suicides, seemingly over the high level of academic pressure. And so we have this teenage girl seriously harming herself and on track to becoming the youngest person in a nursing home and being confined to a wheel chair. Do you thing some sort of research or investigation or corrective actions are warranted?

    One of the original premises of psychoanalysis, going back to Freud is that to know a person you have to have some understanding of the nature of the family relations they grew up in.

    Now, myself being against psychoanalysis, I don’t go where they take it. I see there as being a whole host of other societal issues. And this is how they see it in the Milan School too. I don’t even support psychoanalysis as it is based on confession and disclosure. Where what we need is direction in political, legal, and direct action.

    Do you see there as being anything worth looking at when people are eating in highly self destructive manners? Doesn’t it to you indicate the probability of constraints and problems which they do not know how to resolve?

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  24. Yes, Tireless. There should have been a response decades ago. And I don’t think the response necessarily has to be from the psychiatric/psychologic community. Getting BED into the DSM had everything to do with pharma and nothing to do with “having our voices finally heard.” To believe the latter would be naive indeed. I think the response to destructive eating needs to be to take all ED’s out of the DSM and recognize them as truly serious problems. ED’s are thought of as mental illnesses and people can stop thinking of them as such (it really takes a huge leap to do so) then you see them as really much MORE serious and deadly.

    I think ED needs to be taught in nutrition schools as mainstream nutrition study. Right now, it’s not. You go to a nutritionist and they know ONLY about diabetes and kidney disease. ONLY. They might know a little about the stereotype of ED, but that’s all. They don’t really know. Nutrition therapy for ED should be covered by “insurance” for ED and in many locales it is not. A person who is suffering, say, a college student (a kid like I was), should be able to walk into University Health Services and get an appointment with a nutritionist who knows about ED. You should be able to mention ED and they should know what you’re talking about, and not give you that stupid blank stare. Colleges should have peer support communities, other kids who went through ED. Students shouldn’t have to go through a therapist to access a nutritionist and other vital services.

    I have contacted my alma mater where I developed ED (Bennington College) numerous times and asked them if they would like me to come and speak. I told them I would not charge a cent. I reminded them that students may be suffering and that having someone come and speak might reach a few of them. They told me they were not interested. I have also contacted their radio station several time asking if they wanted to interview me. I have yet to receive a response. It is disheartening, to say the least (especially since I paid all that tuition…)

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  25. OKay, but when you keep saying ‘ED’ over and over it does sound like you do see it as a ‘disorder’, and that likely will be seen as something similar to ~~mental illness~~.

    So if you want nutritionists to handle it, and you want more access to these nutritionalists and them to be more trained in this, okay. But what would they do?

    So as you talk about ED, what is the cure or treatment for ED?

    My knowledge is obviously limited. But as I know what the medical community would do is just check a few things and monitor the person, but generally there is no cure of treatment, there is just psychotherapy, as they see it as a behavior issue, but also being driven by some societal issues which get to young women’s identities.

    What do you think the cure or treatment should be?

    For myself, I am rejecting the concept of ~~ED~~ and instead just talking about self-destructive eating practices. I am also rejecting psychotherapy, but seeing such self-destructive eating practices as the result of some sort or another of political oppression and abuse. And then of course the remedy is to come to understand this and then to politically organize and take political action. Guerilla Girls, radical pro-sex, pro-prostitution, pro-women in art feminists would be the first place I would suggest looking for an ongoing political movement.

    What do you think? I am trying to understand what your POV is.

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