Real Issues

Eating Disorders ~ The Real Issues

Eating Disorders have an adaptive function which basically means the behaviour developed or was adapted for a purpose. Usually it is to enable the individual to cope or deal with a challenge in their lives. An individual may start restricting or purgeing to regulate their mood as they have an inability to respond to their feelings appropriately. Over time the behaviour keeps them stuck and that is what takes over. They are not necessarily sick but the behaviour then makes them sick.

In treatment we need to give the individual a life bigger than the eating disorder. We need to teach the client how to deal with feelings via people and not food. We need to deal with the under lying issues i.e. perception of self deficits that created the need for the disordered self to emerge. Once there is something else put in place , the behaviours can then fall away.

The following are some of the Real Issues that can drive the need for ED behaviours.

1.Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Black and white thinking, dream thinking (I can       only be happy and successful if I’m thin). There are several styles of unhelpful thinking all of which I address with each individual as if not addressed they will hold the behaviour in place.


2.Inability to Express Feelings

Individuals find it hard to express feelings so if an individual is angry, they can binge and purge and it will release tension from the body. The bigger the binge , the bigger the release.


3.Lack of Trust in Self and Others

Here an individual believes that the world is not a safe place and their needs are not going to be met. They may then seek solace in food as people cannot be trusted but food will always be consistent. Restricting can give a person a sense of control and safety.


4.Need not to Feel X

As painful and as difficult it is to feel fat, at least this problem can be solved by losing weight. All other feelings/problems seem to daunting. Fear of life gets transferred to fear of food.


5. Need for a Distraction/Dissociation

Here when an individual is restricting or bingeing they cannot focus on dealing with anything else going on in their lives or in their body so the behaviour serves to dissociate.
Other issues that drive eating disorder behaviours….

  • Need for control
  • Need to fill an emptiness
  • Need for personal Power
  • Need for Perfection
  • Need for Respect
  • Need to be Special & Unique
  • Terrified of not measuring up.
  • Need to Avoid Intimacy
  • Self Punishment
  • Identity, Structure, Predictability
  • Numbing, soothing, nurturing
  • Attention, cry for help through the body.

All the above need to be addressed for treatment to be effective. They are creating the need (purpose) for the behaviour (adaptive function)and when you address these issues and expand awareness this creates the space where  something else can be put in place and the behaviours are no longer appropriate.


Suzanne ~ 087 2056560