My story of recovery from anorexia
Totally! I feel like I've been saying this to people forever. For sure, it is worth it to look at origins and meaning and the messages of the eating disorder, to look at what psychological/emotional/social factors cause the behaviors to persist. But many times, and always at some point, it's not deep, there's no hidden meaning in the pathology.... it's just a brain habit. And so it needs behavioral interventions and cognitive interventions that help diffuse the brain from a one-track way. It doesn't need analysis.
Exactly. I agree that most of the time, those daily "decisions" (automatic compulsions, really) have no deep psychological meaning. All that matters is what will help the person NOW and get her to a healthy place. And for most of my recovery I have not cared one bit "why" I got anorexia; what mattered was the here and now. As I've gotten further along, though, I've started to mull over the origins a bit more. I don't think it would have been useful when I was in the thick of recovery, having to wrestle with myself every minute of the day about what/how much/when to eat (I still wrestle, but to a much lesser extent....). But now that I'm more solid with the eating stuff, I've been able to assess things a little more objectively. For example, I've observed the fact that anxiety/depression is a whole separate beast from the eating disorder for me, and probably was a major reason I developed anorexia in the first place. So I suppose that's the next battle.
I totally think that there is usually zero reason to find and unearth the "origin" of the eating disorder in early recovery or in the thick of recovery (when working on behavioral change is still happening), but I do think it's intersting to mull over and, for most people, important to ultimately figure out in order to sustain recovery. Even if the origin (as I believe it is for some people) is just something like "my brain just switched to obsessive mode when i lost weight," (basically if the origin is super biological - as, for some people, I believe it is) - even that is helpful to know as an origin as you go about living your life so that you can know that susceptibility and maintain recovery.
I both agree and disagree with the article. I think the title is misleading. The studies are actually looking more at the breaking the compulsiveness of anorexia. The title seems to almost trivialize anorexia. It sort of sounds like restricting is put on par with my habit of swearing too much. I do think it's important, as Laura said, to work on the emotional and psychological factors involved in one's ED. For myself, when I start using behaviors, it's because yes, they are an easy habit to go back to, but it's also because I'm avoiding other feelings. It helps me tremendously to figure out what I'm trying to avoid, and by trying to work on that specific issue, I can "re-break" my ED habits. I do think it's important to intervene in the compulsion, which is one thing that I found very helpful at treatment. Also, it's important for me to recognize when I'm actively avoiding feeling something by restricting, or when I've allowed the habit, or compulsion to take over and it's not about feelings, but just because I've gotten myself caught up in those terrible compulsions. Does that make any sense?
I must confess that I didn't actually read the article very carefully before posting (was sitting in the dentist's waiting room...) - just the headline and a quick skim caught my eye and seemed to resonate. But yes upon closer inspection I totally get what you mean and I don't really like the word "habit" because it does seem cavalier. At the same time, it also captures really well what goes on it my head. At buffets, I load up my plate with salad because... because that's just what I do. Not because I ADORE LETTUCE or because I hate everything else or because I'm not hungry, but because filling my stomach with low-calorie bulk is how I've learned to operate, and it's a behavior I've reinforced over years and years. At this point in my recovery (and I am only speaking for myself here), I am making a purposeful decision to restrict and lose weight at every single meal; it's just habit. But you're right - I think that being more mindful about the fact that I DO have a choice every time I eat, and I can choose to break those habits, is really important and powerful. And yes, that makes total sense. I'm with ya!