Catherine Pancake (notacrnflkgirl) wrote,
Catherine Pancake

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Thoughts while reading "Becoming 'Whole' Again," recovery, judgment

Emily's guinea pig is making the squeakiest noises, ah so cute. Anyway!

Public entry. Anonymous commenting on for those who want the option.

Becoming 'Whole' Again: A Qualitative Study of Women's Views of Recovering From Anorexia Nervosa
Jana Jenkins and Jane Ogden

(thanks again to recycledstars for accessing it)

Table 1 Details of participants

click for full-size

loling at the pseudonyms but moving on

Here we have the fifteen women whose phone interviews became "Becoming 'Whole' Again." If we are to assume that diagnosis was not too long after symptom emergence (which it was for some of the women, but I don't have those numbers):
  • Susan's AN lasted seven years.
  • Jasmine's AN lasted nine years.
  • Paula's AN, fifteen years.
  • Jennifer's, six.
  • Sabrina's, six.
  • Diane's, two.
  • Gillian's, sixteen (reported as fifteen on page 7), although she is "always recovering."
  • Valerie's, three.
  • Fiona's, twelve.
  • Ramila's, three ("semi-recovered").
  • Ethel's, four ("in recovery").
  • Barbara's, two ("in recovery").
  • Chloe's, six ("in recovery").
  • Stacey's, two ("in recovery").
  • Mary's, three.
One of my obstacles when I first considered recovering, after I had started visiting ED communities and forums (← important!), was the idea that my ED had not existed long enough to deserve (for me to deserve) treatment; I would deserve treatment and health when my ED hit the five-year, seven-year, ten-year mark, at which point I would have a real ED and be a real eating-disordered person. Never mind my insanity, right? Never mind the simultaneous enmeshment/dual-personality and physical damage I would deepen while I waited for a magic date and how much harder it would be to separate and reconnect my sense of self after that time, not to mention repairing things like hunger cues. I open to introduce myself and close it because I do not want to admit that my ED was diagnosed in 2006 and ended in 2010.

The same mixture of poor self-esteem/self-worth, competition, escalation, and denial is found in progressively lower goal weights and ultimate/long-term goal weights. I see the fallacy of (LT)GWs pointed out all the time, but I don't ever see anyone talking about duration in elitism.

Regarding the ED voice (the AN voice here):

…Susan believed that one is recovered when: 'it [anorexic voice]' doesn't control your life, when it doesn't stop you doing things'. For Jennifer, who has been recovered for 7 years her 'AN voice had disappeared'. For Chloe, who is in recovery, controlling the voice means getting 'to the point when I have that voice but I would not really listen to it'. Controlling the AN voice is thus associated with the resolution of another dichotomy between the rational and irrational side. …Ramila, who described herself as 'in recovery', believed that 'you may never fully recover from AN, I think the voice is always there'.


It is so helpful to read this in an academic paper! YOU'RE CATCHING ON.

A word or more on the ED voice, from someone who has heard voices in the psychotic sense: it is not auditory hallucination. They share some characteristics, but the ED voice is more like the devil on your shoulder or your id.

For Jasmine, who had AN for 7 years, giving up the AN identity was 'a huge risk because I was convinced I couldn't be anything else'. … The way the women managed their new identity varied. Some described that AN had become incorporated into their new identity and acknowledged that although AN remained a part of their life, it did not define nor dominate them. However, for other women, recovery meant rejecting AN as a part of their new self-identity.

Geraldine: "There is a danger of becoming a professional sick person."

Interestingly, on page 8, listed as a precursor for full recovery is the switch of mindset from body-dominant to mind-dominant, which is in diametric opposition to what I've heard time and time again:

Full recovery occurs when the AN voice becomes muted via relationships boosting a sense of self, which includes a shift in power from body/AN side to mind/rational side so that the mind/rational side can regain control and use language and relationships to express psychological distress rather than using bodily forms of communication.

The underlying logic is the same, it's just strange to read it in flipped phrasing.

Notes on the study in and of itself:
  • There wasn't any point I really disagreed with. The recovery tactics brought up were ones I implemented in mine: raising consciousness and identifying displaced emotions (check); alleviating behaviors by using healthy (positive or neutral) behaviors, relationships, and identity to carry the weight of strong emotions, while avoiding addiction transfer (check, although sometimes … sigh); redirecting focus, either of disorder or treatment, from physicalities to source thoughts and emotions; taking the time to mend the rift between the non-sick person and the sick person/un-weave the person and the illness; restructuring life to exclude disorder/relapse (check. Geraldine once suggested I get a girlfriend, back in 2008. I thought not. "Don't you think that's manipulative, to use someone as a recovery tool?" "Well…"); etc.
  • It is admittedly small and qualitative. Its usefulness is not in number-crunching but in legitimizing recovered women's voices by putting them in an academic form.
  • Thank you for referencing dualism! And often!
  • Fifteen women, good chance they're mostly or all androphilic, but there are sexual orientation-neutral ways to express getting a boyfriend really helped, jsyk.
* * * * *

Doing recovery check-ins (I posted one in October, at six months; I do small, informal mental check-ins a few times a week) does nothing for obsession with eating-disordered anything, but it keeps me on track. When I compare my desire to obey the ED voice to the body of my recovery (A year! So close! Don't fuck it up!), the desire loses enough steam that I can ignore it, take the ED voice down a peg, and go on with what I was doing.

I've gotten much better at recognizing which threats to my recovery are real and which are imagined. Real threats need to be avoided; avoiding imagined ones feeds into feeling trapped or defined by an ED and reinforces that kind of disordered thinking, and it prevents me from taking any chances. Examples: For me, caving and abusing laxatives is a real threat; one binge (or a non-binge large meal) is an imagined threat, and sounding the alarm over it would distract me from real problems. An instance of laxative abuse might lead to another, and it crosses a line for me (using OTC or prescription substances in a behavior). An instance of bingeing or eating too much and being painfully full is not likely to lead to another, and it does not cross a self-imposed line (although it is still triggering). Mirrors will not cause me to relapse. Neither will trying on clothes!, although I should reserve clothes shopping for times when I am in a relatively stable, good mentality. When I don't, I associate bad moods and thoughts with trying on clothes, and my vision is more likely to be distorted.
Tags: psych: eating disorder, psych: eating disorder recovery
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