Treating Eating Disorders Involves Shifting ‘Eating Disorder Voice’

Research finds that the 'eating disorder voice' decreases in severity, malevolence and omnipotence through treatment.


According to a recent article in Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, individuals with eating disorders often experience a negative inner voice that critiques their weight and eating habits. The researchers found that this voice, which can feel like it belongs to a separate person, tends to decrease in severity, hostility, and perceived power throughout psychotherapeutic treatment.

This study, headed by Ludovica Natali from the University of Padova, additionally finds that reductions in the eating disorder voice’s malevolence and omnipotence often coincide with a reduction of some symptoms.

The authors report:

“Over time, patients reported lower levels of eating and weight concern (small effect size), shape concern (large effect size), and anxiety (small effect size). They also reported a reduction in the severity, perceived malevolence (medium effect size), and omnipotence (small effect size) of the eating disorder voice. Greater severity and malevolence of the voice, and lower benevolence at baseline predicted greater reductions in eating disorder symptoms (i.e., restraint and shape concern).”

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  1. The inner voice can indeed be treated as if it belongs to a separate person. The voice can be integrated back into the main personality by establishing rapport with it and eliciting it’s highest positive intention for it’s behaviour and then eliciting it’s opposite’s highest positive intention. They will be the same and can be lead to integrate. Most of the disorder will likely disappear at that point.

    The technique is known as “Visual Squash” and there are other versions of it.

    I have done this exercise once with a person and the result was that a woman who first attended in all black arrived for the next session in a yellow dress. There was more to do but this was an important start to healing.

    This is an NLP technique and the skills necessary are part of a good training. The mainstream mind will tend to dismiss this as rubbish. How sad is that.

    My hope (at age 79 ) is that some curious mind will follow this idea up. I am not in the USA.

    Good luck to the sufferers, they need it.

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