The term ‘anorexic’ is often disliked as a derogatory label by many of those who demonstrate features of the eating disorder- after all as individuals, we are all unique. It is certainly not known exactly why anorexic behaviour takes root in some individuals, and not others.
Men and boys can be affected by the activities and attitudes that have come to be known as ‘anorexic’ as well as girls and women, and people of almost all ages can suffer, though it is most common in teenagers and those in their twenties.
Currently, about half of all make a complete recovery, and go on to reverse many of the effects of the eating disorder, such as bone loss. Almost a third, recover to a large extent, but for the remainder, the condition endures for many, years-even into old age in some cases. The longer the eating disorder has persisted the more entrenched it tends to become.
It is commonly believed that dieting is to blame, but this is not always the case. Those with no weight issues, who are in stable and loving families, can be affected, as well as those with ‘puppy fat,’ family upheavals, redundancy or other important losses. However, some clients say the media’s often cruel and intolerant attitude to fatness fed into their yearning for external approval, even if their weight was within normal parameters in the first place.
A person who suffers from anorexic behaviour, is frequently a perfectionist at heart, and highly sensitive to the criticism of others. In addition, they may be highly able, even gifted and talented, but has a tendency to expect too much of themselves and so drives him/herself very hard. Even if they appear very well organised, they are very anxious about achieving.
But why, once someone has begun to suffer the consequences of long term under nourishment, which are painful and debilitating, is it so hard to resume normal eating and gain weight? Is it possible to become addicted to under-eating? It does appear that the payoffs of the eating disorder: feeling strong, powerful and in control when surrounded by food, elation at the achievement of self-denial, the release of endorphins, and so on, all contribute to addiction to the behaviour.
The most common reason for my clients to suffer from an eating disorder is when they feel unable to control external events. In a fragile and disturbing world, denying themselves adequate food intake gives the reassurance of control. It might sound illogical, but we humans are not always creatures of sense and logic. That is one reason why we are capable of getting addictions, and where hypnotherapy comes in.
Once a diagnosis of ‘eating disorder’ has been accepted and acknowledged, (a big step, for many), there needs to be a way to give the person motivation to give it up and the inner strength to act upon that motivation. Such motivation will have a unique meaning for the individual, tapping into their talents and potential to be what they could become. For some it may be going out into the world to make a difference, or a longed for university place, or having a baby, or loving and being loved. The meaning is whatever their imagination wants to give it.
Hypnotherapy has helped my clients to change and to let go of their eating disorder. They are enabled them to want something more than they want an eating disorder and to believe they can get it. Hypnotherapy reduces tension and releases the unconscious power that pushes anorexia out of the way.