Listening to the patient

Our culture values the act of listening. We praise the ability to listen and hear and empathize. Parents, especially, are supposed to listen to our children.

But with an eating disorder, listening is a problem. EDs mangle self-image, self-esteem, and how the patient hears our concern and attempts to protect. Like any human being, they want to be heard, and they find meaning in their struggle.

As parents, how can we not listen? But eating disorders lie to the sufferer, so how is it best to listen?

Eating Disorders in a Disordered Culture: Stories Told


  1. I think we still need to listen when our kids are sick with an ED.Perhaps even more-so. You know I'm a big fan of getting out the pictures of when they were small and reminding them of who they are fighting for. The sooner we can help them separate the voice that diminishes them from the one that helps them stand up for themselves, the stronger their recovery. It's hard work!
    The stories are a good way for them to share. It's hard to be alone when someone knows.
    Candle will be lit.

  2. Your advice - so long ago and so early in my life as a parent supporting an ED patient - has always lived with me. It has added meaning to all our pictures of my kids, really. This is the kid - take a moment to breathe and see who we are talking about, who really matters. Sometimes the picture looks back at a comfort, sometimes as a call to action!

  3. As a sufferer, I think there is much to be said for simply being heard. I didn't need people to believe what a fat cow I was convinced I really was. I knew it was true already. But for someone to listen and hear my thoughts and feelings (however demented and irrational) and *not judge* was the important part.

    It made me feel safe.

  4. I've half posted a long and burbling answer to this and then lost it - grrr

    It boils down to the fact that at the moment my dear friend Mary seems to be the one who is listening to my daughter - thank you Mary.

  5. Listen to people with EDs but don't react when the ED is talking. Give love and support to the person within, but don't validate ED.


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