The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is

I would love The Anosognosic’s Dilemma purely because I want the whole world to add this word to our vocabulary, but I am actually enjoying it purely for its content.

Learn this word, people. Use this word.

It would be a revolution in the field of eating disorders if we could all agree on the role of anosognosia in patient symptoms and we responded to it with the appropriate loving and protective care.

It isn't a "won't" it is a "can't until my brain heals."

Anosognosia is perhaps the most important vocabulary word for us all to share.


  1. I slip in and out of denial so often (and when I'm in denial, it feels false to even use the word "denial" b/c don't you have to be somewhat out of denial in order to be able to know it's appropriate to use the word denial?)


    one of my fears is that, even 10 years from now, I'll look back and say "So what... did I... or didn't I... have an eating disorder?" Some days, I'm so clear. Other days, I'm so confused b/c what ppl say and what I think and where I am and what I'm doing all don't match up. What if, 10 years from now, I'm still confused and I say "Weird... that was weird that I went to ED treatment... that I saw an ED therapist... that was strange...." I hope, in the future, I won't look back and still be confused a/b if I did or didn't have an ED....

  2. That's the trap isn't it? The wretched trap that ED weaves and uses to sustain itself. What you describe IS a common thing - I've heard it countless times and I'm sure you have as well: not only does one not feel unwell at the time it is hard to make it stick. Almost as if that part of the consciousness is coated with teflon and can't retain alarm or resolve or even memory.

    I dare say this is part of what family and friends and professionals can do: be the memory keeper. We can document and orient. We can lovingly monitor and offer perspective.

    But: "what if?" I guess that will have to be okay. Okay to not really remember or understand. Okay to let others do that for you. Being confused and unclear and WELL and moving forward in life is worth it ANYWAY. Leave the puzzling for then. Write and seal a letter to yourself for one year from now, two years, five years, 10, 25, 50... as an experiment. Report back!

  3. as someone whose brain has healed (and healed surprisingly well, for which I am forever tickled and grateful), I second Laura's encouragement to learn more about this.
    The madness of being with an ED brain is that with all YOUR might, you want to accept help, but with all your ED's might, you WILL NOT accept help. And as Laura pointed out, that polar opposite thinking does not actually translate into, "I don't want to recover." --even tho' that's often what your ED head makes you believe and truly feel.
    I am so very very lucky and blessed that I put recovery first and foremost during the time I was going thru it --that changed the course of my life. By sticking with recovery and making it my primary 'job' in life, I was able to fully recover. It took a good 6 months of being at a healthy weight, (this was after about a year of eating WELL), before I could sit and read an entire NYTimes again without my brain getting tired. I remember the day I first did it...and I knew then that: recovered is possible.

    ps: with risk of the above sounding Pollyannaish, I want to know that this is being written by someone who was one of the most stubborn and mean-spirited bulimic/anorexic sufferers in the history of this disease. I refused help and was mean to anyone who offered it, yet I desperately wanted someone to save me. If I can overcome the ED-desire of "I won't accept help", then anyone can! FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE and don't give up until you have it back.
    ...and don't wait for someone to come and save you --just begin.

    Thanks, Laura.

  4. Is anosognosia part of the memory of having had an ED? My husband was recently talking about another girl we know who with an ED. My now recovered daughter asked how she was doing. We said fine, as far as we knew, but that she seemed to have had a milder, shorter illness than our daughter. Our daughter said, "Oh, I wasn't very sick at all!" with great surprise in her voice. (yeah, like 2 really ill years, a 9 week hospitalization and probably 7 full years to full recovery isn't fairly ill??) My perception is just SO different!


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