I want to thank the anonymous commenter on yesterday's blog post who said: "what a breathe of fresh air to not have all the responsibility put on the victim's shoulders"

You know what? That's the whole point of pretty much everything I'm trying to do with my eating disorder work.

That's the reason for discussing the biological mechanics of the symptoms: to understand that the patient isn't stupid, vain, lacking in will, or making a choice to have this problem. Patients deserve the world around them to know just how hard it is and HELP THEM.

That's the reason for empowering families to step forward and not sit around helpless and angry: to help patients get the support and safe environment they deserve.

I understand that some people take this message as demeaning to the patient ("Are you saying I'm broken?"), or disempowering ("You don't believe in me.") but that isn't what I believe. I am trying to make sure that eating disorder patients don't have to have the full responsibility for understanding their illness, finding treatment, complying with treatment, and preventing relapse.

The idea is to give patients back their independence, their will, their true personalities, and their choices. We need to step up - parents, society, treatment providers - to take some of that responsibility off the patient because we DO believe in them and we DON'T think they have to be permanently impaired.


  1. I think it is really important that you mention that your belief in a biological basis for eating disorders leads you not to conclude that patients are broken or that you don't believe in them, but lead you to wanting to ensure that they have help and support in the process of recovery. That way, although you have mentioned something that some people might disagree with, you have also mentioned something most will agree with. I think offering common ground is really important in trying to work with people with whom you disagree on some aspects.

    I love love love it when you do offer that common ground. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

  2. i just wanted to add. since i made the comment noted in this post - i really think people are wasting their time if they want to disagree with laura's belief that eating disorders are a result of a biological basis. i read this blog daily and i see (way too often) people getting tripped up on that one aspect of what laura believes. (i myself am not very sold on the idea that it's totally a biological issue but i can see some of the thinking there). What I have found to truly be a breathe of fresh air here is the focus of taking the blame off of the person suffering - stressing that once trapped in malnutrition (any part of the spectrum of it) that the one suffering is not capable of making decisions in the direction of recovery. it's the illness. the more loved ones/support systems can understand the resistance is the illness screaming for dear life (and often really saying quietly in the background 'please don't listen to me and guide me the right way anyway'.)

    we really do not need to all agree on the true cause of an eating disorder. But i think most (if not all of us) would agree treatment modalities need to change.

    if i had cancer and my first four rounds of chemo did not work nobody would ever suggest to me that i didn't want to be cancer free enough?

    I've always known on some level i did not choose this illness or to have my entire life course altered b/c of it. I did not choose to have more memories of treatment centers when i should have made lifelong friendships in college. I am trying the best i can with what i have. And just b/c i have not found all the right pieces of the puzzle at the same time to lead to wellness does not mean i'm not motivated!!

    I can't help but to wonder how my path might be different today if people were speaking like this 10 and 20 years ago. (i.e. identifying the voice of the illness and understanding the perceptions of the person suffering).

    Laura - keep speaking loud and clear.

  3. I just felt the need to point out something. Something I'm sure you are aware of but I want to say anyway. It's so hard for someone (like me) to actually stop the denial and ask for the help in the first place. But even after that, the "help" isn't even given to me, because my bank account isn't large enough. I am VERY aware that this disease is not my fault. And I'm also aware that I would never succeed in recovery without being a WILLING patient. But now, because I can't be a patient to anyone, I'm my own patient. That sucks. I don't have any doctors and I don't think I'm the only one that's had to deal with this same issue either. I don't know a specific story, but I'm sure there's some that ended happily and some that didn't. I hope that even without the same "help" that I truly deserve, I can end this story on a happy note......

    Thoughts? Is it possible to do it without the outside "help"?

  4. Just to add one other responsibility: insurance coverage/cost of treatment!
    Where's the village when you need them???

  5. Thank you, all. I need to say this more often, I guess.

    Tori, doing it alone is often what ED wants, I think. I think it is part of the cruel thing the illness DOES is convince people that there are no resources even when there are. It is even possible to interpret a message like mine - saying that we need to step up to help people with the illness - as a discouraging one to those who don't think they have resources!

    Yes, people do recover without outside help - extremely, extremely rarely. They shouldn't have to.

  6. thank you for this laura. It's difficult to explain that this is a positive message but it is.


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