ED's power to alienate family, and a parent's power to keep loving

Chronic sufferers of eating disorders, more often than not, report not being close to family.

One thing that interests me a great deal is the way ED uses compassion as a tool to set parents up to withdraw; a withdrawal that can lead a patient to feel rejected. Parents who are continually rejected and facing hate and disgust from loved ones learn there is little they can say or do to lessen the bad feelings. Love is taken as weakness. Concern is taken as criticism. Parents learn to take a neutral distance just to stay nearby. They stay close, but try not to make things worse by engaging. This of course can lead to long-term alienation. It is heartbreaking. I believe this dynamic frays and sometimes destroys relationships. It isn't the patient's fault, nor is it the parent's fault.

One mom describes, in real time, how she faces and counteracts this pattern: mummy-love, touch and ED's rage: "I was withdrawing from K and increasingly reluctant to reach out to her and face that rejection"

I so admire this mother. I could have used some of this wisdom when my daughter was ill - and I believe it has much to teach all of us.


  1. I, too, am so impressed by this loving mother's insight so early in her D's illness. I wish I had broken through the "touch" barrier with my D, since she is still aversive to touch years later. I never recognized this as another ploy by ED to alienate me and keep me away from my D. I didn't give up on any other level, but I miss those hugs and feel that they are essential to a relationship between parent and child. Inspired by this mom, I may try to reclaim what we had when she was young, that is, the right to enjoy hugs with those whom you love.


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