Is an eating disorder just an extreme diet?

Is an eating disorder an extreme diet?

I don't know: is schizophrenia extreme thinking?


  1. omg that is about the most hilarious, and acurate comparison! i can't stop laughing...

  2. wellll - in answer to the second question, I DO know of several people for whom the initial (or is the fourth or fifth) diagnosis has been scizophrenia, and who subsequently have had the diagnosis changed, to OCD, or Autism, or Personality Disorder so I am guessing that with psychiatry being such an inexact art, the answer to both questions could actually be "yes"

  3. I think you could stick extreme dieting at one end of a spectrum that has severe eating disorders at the other end. There'll be a point somewhere in the middle that could be considered either an extreme diet or a mild disorder.

    That's the problem with taking a continuous scale and giving it discrete labels.

  4. *snicker* That's awesome. And makes both things sound like extreme sports. Which, I suppose, they kind of are.

  5. I don't know why people think the analogy is so hilarious/ ridiculous. I almost think maybe the answer to both questions is YES. After all, schizophrenia is described by some psychiatrists to be a thought disorder. Schizophrenia is characterized by disordered thinking.

    You could arguably say that all mental illnesses are "extreme" forms of "normal" behaviors. Depression could be seen as "extreme sadness". Everyone feels sad occasionally but it's much more extreme in people who are truly depressed. OCD could be a form of "extreme rituals". Everyone performs rituals to a certain extent (i.e brushing their teeth, washing hands before eating, etc.) but not everyone does it every two minutes.

  6. JA,

    If you define all mental disorders so broadly, then it is logical to call schizophrenia extreme thinking and an ED extreme dieting.

    But does it help with the issues at hand?

    Eating disorders are like a guillotine to a diet's paper cut. It is an order of magnitude of suffering and difficulty far beyond what other people experience.

    I think it trivializes an ED to compare it to a diet, and I think it confuses the public about the seriousness of an ED.

  7. Also, a disease is not a choice. We could all experiment with stream-of-consciousness thinking or take mind altering drugs to try to replicate schizophrenia, but while we might experience or exhibit something that looked like schizophrenia- the preferred now is schizo-affective disorder I believe, there would be important differences. One is that we would be actively choosing, while a true schizophrenic has no control over when or for how long their thinking is disordered. Another is that our experience would be temporary, whereas schizophrenia is thus far a condition that requires lifelong treatment. Similarly, we can all try on disordered eating habits, but someone suffering from ED *can't NOT* eat disordered - at least not without treatment.
    The statistician in me has to make an objection, though: "Extreme forms of normal" is sort of an oxymoron. Normal means that most members of a population share that trait. If something is extreme, by definition very few members of the population engage in it. Ok, stats objection over :)

  8. I like the analogy between a guillotine and a paper cut. Another way to look at it is to think of getting a minor cut on the skin. For most people, the wound will heal with no lasting harm. For people with a certain genetic background, however, who have hemophilia, even a minor wound can lead to death. Maybe the same is true with dieting. Most people won't be harmed by it, but for others with a particular genetic predisposition, something as harmless for most people as dieting can result in a dangerous eating disorder.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts