Inside the Mind of Anorexia: How Anorexia Nervosa Manipulates the Mind
January 22, 2015 by Castlewood Treatment Center in Body Image, Eating Disorder Treatment A typically healthy person may have difficulty understanding someone who is suffering from anorexia - after all, why would anyone want to consciously starve themselves? It's critical, then, that an understanding of the way anorexia manipulates the mind and causes issues with body image acceptance, be achieved in order to better understand such patients. Developing an understanding also helps avoid pushing them even further into their illness.
Anyone suffering from issues stemming from body image acceptance has difficulty correlating the person they see in the mirror with the person they see in their head. The version of themselves that exists internally will override even the direst physical issues, issues that are obvious to everyone but them. Whether it is because of a need to exert control over at least one aspect of their lives or because they feel the need for approval, the nature of the eating disorder quickly overtakes a person through an obsession with their weight, the calories they consume and the amount of exercise they perform. This obsession becomes the cornerstone of an individual with anorexia. Other activities and interests fall by the wayside.
Anorexia leads sufferers to believe that even healthy foods are bad for them, even if there is no logical evidence to support these beliefs. In fact there can be nothing but evidence to the contrary, but the person suffering from anorexia does not listen to reason and will assert their irrational claims regardless. This disease twists even the most logical arguments a loved one can pose - and the person suffering from this disease will become more obstinate the harder they are pressed.
They can even begin to notice their body's cries for help - weakness, fatigue, feeling faint - and interpret them as positive, even desirable. Instead of reading these as signs that they need to care for themselves, they strive for these symptoms and will associate them with success.
It's key to remember that although expressions of concern are natural, a person suffering from anorexia can interpret these expressions as positive reinforcement. Just as feeling faint and looking gaunt are something to strive for, hearing others express concern only seems to reinforce that individual’s belief that they are succeeding.
Because anorexia is so all consuming, it cannot be effectively treated by the average person. Medical supervision, along with therapy to assess and treat the root causes of the disease and its effects on the brain are necessary if a person suffering from this disease is to recover.
Keep the conversation going by commenting here, and then sharing your personal affirmations on Instagram using hashtag #WhatIsRecovery. Your affirmation may be what someone else is seeking as a guide in their own recovery!