Monday, February 28, 2011

Eating Disorder Study

I'd love to have a dollar for all the people who, after learning that I work with eating disorders, say something to the effect of, "I wish I had an eating disorder."  Then, there are those who think recovery is simple--just eat, or just limit what you eat--when it's not.  Eating disorders are not simply choices.  New research (see the abstract below) actually provides evidence for such interpretations of eating disorders and recovery.
A Comparison of Stigma Toward Eating Disorders Versus Depression. Objective: The goal of this study was to compare the degree of stigma associated with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and depression. Method: Participants read one of three vignettes describing clinical cases of AN, BN, or depression, and answered questions assessing stigma toward individuals with one of these three mental disorders. Results: Attitudes toward individuals with eating disorders were significantly more stigmatizing than attitudes toward individuals with depression. Individuals with an eating disorder were rated as more fragile, more responsible for their disorder, and more likely to use their disorder to gain attention than individuals with depression. Furthermore, the majority of participants reported that they admired certain aspects of eating disorders, thought that there might be some benefits to having an eating disorder, and that others would be motivated to imitate eating disorder behavior. Discussion: Stigma toward individuals with eating disorders is greater than stigma toward depression and includes unique features such as attitudes of envy. Implications of these results for the understanding of mental disorder stigma and eating disorders are discussed. Source: Int J Eat Disord. 2010 Nov 1;43(7):671-4.


ania said...

I think that part of the envy comes with the perception of desirable outcomes.

Please note that these are not my views, but reflect the mindset behind comments I've heard and read

Bulimia - "Eat large quantities of whatever one chooses while managing weight to some extent".

Anorexia - "Exercise control to achieve quick/drastic weight loss"

I would suggest, however that the mania cycle of Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder results in a similar envy - "I wish I had that energy to get so much done! I wish I could go through periods of intense creativity!"

J at said...

People who say these things have never been in the head of someone suffering the extreme self-hatred of these disorders. It's not something to envy. I would not wish an eating disorder upon my worst enemy.

There's an anorexic woman in my neighborhood, and every time I see her bony spine pass me on the trail, shaking her arms above her head to burn more calories, it breaks my heart.

Kai said...

Most of my life I have been a compulsive over eater - when I reached my teens, I took different eating patterns and diet fixations which earned me the diagnosis of ed-nos. Still to this day, I am jealous of anorexia - the opposite of what I've suffered for many years. Somehow I felt that I'd rather be not eating and underweight, then constantly eating and overweight. Although I still often think this way, I'm more aware that suffering is suffering, no matter which way you wrap and put a pretty bow on it.

Your blog is great, I'd like to keep following you!

UnmotheredChild said...

I believe that most eating disorders stem from early relationship with the maternal caregiver.

EDNOS said...

Oh my goodness! I just wrote about envy on my blog the other day. This really hit home for me: I wish I had a 'better' eating disorder and I know that I need support at home to recover but I can't get over the stigma associated with having an eating disorder and tell my family

McCall Hunt said...

I have great empathy for your struggles. I just want to assure you that the opposite of what you struggle with is full of depression and is so empty and doesn't have satisfaction. The fact that it seems like an addiction that causes weight loss would be more bearable than the opposite just shows how effectively warped our society is in how it says thinness is a source of happiness.