Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Reading

Another random book recommendation: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. It's a memoir by a father whose son is a crystal meth addict. He talks a lot about the neurobiology of addiction; how addiction is an illness with genetic roots that gets activated by environmental factors—sound familiar?

Sheff writes: "[My son] admitted that he sometimes wished that he had any other illness, because no one would blame him. And yet cancer patients, for example, would be justifiably disgusted by this. All an addict or alcoholic has to do is stop drinking, stop using!" JUST EAT. Right?


I think anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder has felt stigmatized, guilty, ashamed, etc. at some point or another. It's hard not to. On one hand, you get endless praise for how skinny and awesome at dieting you are—and the next minute, your dad is crying next to you because he can't understand why you won't just eat. If you're lucky enough to have a family with resources, those resources get sucked down the drain pretty quickly to therapy, treatment centers, medications, and Boost. Even the clinicians themselves can succeed in making you feel pretty crappy. Why aren't you better yet?? It's damn near impossible for people to understand that sufferers of addiction or EDs aren't in control of their behaviors most of the time. They're completely out of control. They're not themselves. They're sick. That's the whole point.

I've never had a drug or alcohol problem, but it seems like there is a lot of overlap with eating disorders in terms of stigmatization, theories of etiology, and The Blame Game. Nothing but sympathy here for those suffering and their families.

1 comment:

  1. SPOT-ON! I think you're absolutely right. As someone with both alcoholism and an ED, I can definitely attest to the similar feelings of stigma and blame (at least for me). From the outside many people seem to think "just don't drink...and eat." I think what also makes it difficult is (at least for me) that I make those same judgements to myself and would beat myself up for not being able to control myself around alcohol before I got sober. And now I berate myself for my inability to "just eat and stop exercising." I think the self-judgements compound with the societal judgements and stigma about these diseases. You raise a lot of good points here and say it so elegantly!