even-handed eating disorder treatment

Until recently, I could think of no reason why "eye movement desensitization and reprocessing" deserved attention.

I'm not a fan of seeing mental illness as a wound or a protest, and not a believer in therapies oriented in the past.

EMDR as an ED therapy had an air of witchcraft to me and not until a clinician I deeply respect mentioned she used it did I give it a second thought.

"I can't tell you why it works, but it does seem to for some people."

Here's a possible clue: "right-handedness linked to poor body image" in a Reuters Health article describing a possible connection between distorted body image and strong dependence on one hand. This could indicate an organic problem behind both features. The writer brings up the idea that EMDR may also be acting on the communication between the right and left hemispheres.

All day I've been picturing Tevye, the Fiddler on the Roof: "On the other hand..."


  1. Would this work for those of us traumatized by 'traditional therapy'? All the months of trying to find out 'why' our children got an eating disorder and how our family contributed to it? I could use a little post traumatic desensitization work that only took a few sessions!!

  2. Well, now that you mention it, that sounds brilliant! Just THINK of the market out there for PTSD in parents with eating disordered kids!!

  3. Great subject Laura. I think that in the proper hands, a T or someone who understands, and that knows how to help heal the old messages, it can be a useful tool. I've known cases where it failed but I believe one person involved was using drugs that may have affected treatment. It's similar to EFT, a point tapping and re-setting of the thoughts.
    I don't really care what path helps someone find there way out of the woods. Regardless of genetics it's thinking, sometimes over thinking, that's involved in ED's. Even though the distortion is most exaggerated when a person is starved, it may begin from not being able to leave a certain pathway in the highway of the brain. An insult, for example, regarding one's weight plants a seed and changing the message is essential to stopping the torment. [my non scientific opinion] Maybe this is why affirmations helped heal my d's mind. It changed her thinking and removed the negatives that kept sucking her under.
    So glad you shared this. I could have used it a few times myself over the years.

  4. It's surprising what works!

    My trauma may be somewhat different from yours Anne, but I know that I HAVE benefitted both from Reiki and from aromatherapy sessions.

    I was surprised to find that one of the clinicians I respect the most for her scientific incisiveness is a great advocate of "Mindfulness" in Eating Disorders treatment - again not something I had associated with science, but that just proved how ignorant one can be.

    In a way it stands to reason (or at least it does to MY reason) that any illness involving unfortunate wiring of the brain can be helped by therapies that involve either attempting to "re-wire" or at the very least involve giving the brain and body a bit of a rest. "Don't just do something, sit there" is the mantra of one of the Mindfulness coaches that my Special Scientist was recently giving a joint talk with - it's quite a difficult thing to do, especially with all the temptations of the Internet and blog hopping to contend with, but I'm sure that it really does do something beneficial to the brain.

  5. I find that picturing my recovery neurons growing stronger and overpowering the AN neurons to be really effective.

  6. Actually, believe it or not, I know a couple of people whose opinions I respect a lot who either are advocates of EMDR or who have been treated with it to recover from one trauma or another. Perhaps it works along the lines of retraining the brain in some crucial way. Whatever works . . .


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