It is a Mental Disorder

I have stressed this many times in many different situations. Anorexia Nervosa is a mental disorder. It is not something someone can just get. It is not catching. It is not a disease, but a disorder. Someone with Anorexia cannot give it to you because they cough on you. Anorexia is a mental disorder and very, very much like an addiction.

There is a big difference between wanting to be thin and almost killing yourself over it.

I was browsing the web today and every now and then I like to google “anorexia” in the news section to see what’s going on and I found stuff like this: Anorexia: A Socially Transmitted Disease

I sat at my computer and went, “What the f***?!” I was very mad. I was already mad today for school related things but this blew me over the edge. Okay, I have no problem with size 0 models going away, but the fact that there is a multitude of these ignorant, ridiculous articles ON THE INTERNET where most people believe everything on it is true made me practically livid. You cannot post such horrible, uninformed crap on the internet like this. Eating disorders have been around for centuries, way before size 0 was even a concept.

It also make me mad what these new articles are coming out about how Anorexia Nervosa doesn’t affect just women. Um, duh? I guess it’s nice to raise awareness, but really people? Come on!

You cannot “curb the anorexia problem” by getting rid of size 0 models. It will always be present, unfortunately, just like alcohol addictions and depression and schizophrenia will always be around. THEY ARE MENTAL DISORDERS that cannot be treated simply by removing something that could be triggering. Removing the alcohol does not get rid of the addiction.

I will say it again, because there are apparently many people that do not understand this, but eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa are serious mental disorders that are not catching and cannot easily be treated by removing an image and is not caused by peer pressure.

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9 thoughts on “It is a Mental Disorder

  1. You are so right! I saw that article too and it just makes me so mad how ignorant people can be about anorexia. I agree that it’s exactly like an addiction and people don’t ever say you can ‘catch’ alcoholism

  2. i find this so infuriating. How many times do we need to say to the public, you can’t catch or learn to have, a mental disorder? Honestly, are we still in the dark ages? Argh.
    One of the searches used to find my blog was “website that teaches people to have anorexia” !!!!!!!!!

  3. g.a. says:

    While much of what you write is objectively completely true, it is important as both a survivor and citizen to recognize that the onset of anorexia and multivariate eating disorders can be and very often is affected by portrayal of body norms and standards of beauty in the media, and the extensive health and wellness discourse that has so many in its grasp. Indeed, it can be triggered, and it can be encouraged and incited by social factors- as is the case with many other mental disorders. What is overlooked and misunderstood is that there are always underlying causes, an interior architecture of cognition, that came prior to whatever functions as the spark so to speak; that it is not what initiates the disorder that fully defines it. Paired with this, is the lack of understanding around the connection between the body and brain, that the body can take charge of the mind- at a certain stage of malnutrition and calorie deprivation, cognitive function shifts into a manner consistent with anorexia (you’ve heard of the Minnesota starvation study, right?).

    To use your analogy, if a community has limited access to alcohol, it is not advertised nor romanticized, nor is socializing around it permitted, it is unlikely that alcoholism will be a widespread problem. If there is a cultural shift in how bodies are represented and assigned value, which happens in slow incremental steps like enforcing models remain above 18.5 BMI as flawed as that metric is, then the potential for a shift in how individuals manage their conception of self is likely to occur. It will take much more, and it is unlikely that this will occur, but how wonderful would it be if a generation of children were raised to see themselves as accepted and beautiful and valued when examining themselves against images they’re bombarded with?

    When I first admitted to myself that I had an eating disorder, as is often the case, I vehemently denied my body and self-image coming into play in its development, and as I recovered came to rely on what was essentially a moral high ground. By placing myself ‘above,’ that common perception and narrative of anorexia, bolstered by the pro-ana community, I retained a sense of self and inner strength that certainly aided recovery. With time and some time in this new body and shifting mind, many conversations with others in recovery, I’ve found that what we, collectively, fail to fight is recognizing that eating disorders are a legitimate struggle, no matter what the cause.

    • You make an excellent point, and I think there needs to be a lot more research and understanding to be done before anyone can really decide whether or not the media causes/influences the development of an eating disorder, but I would like to add that even if we were this super positive community that promoted pure body acceptance and health, and the pro-ana community online disappeared completely there would still be eating disorders. The pro-ana community and the like online do not cause an eating disorder, though they can trigger it. If that doesn’t trigger it, something else will. I didn’t even know what pro-ana was until after I was diagnosed anorectic. Perhaps more people that have an eating disorder would go through life in this “perfect society” in more of a stage related to where I am where I feel generally good about my body and life most of the time but have bits and pieces of time where I want to restrict and do. Nothing as terrible as what many go through now, perhaps, but they wouldn’t and can’t ever completely go away.

    • I strongly believe (and studies are showing) that it’s genetic. You are predisposed to it, and the cultural/media factors TRIGGER that. The trigger can be anything – but the bottom line is, you were gonna get it, it was already there just waiting to explode.
      The difference between someone predisposed and someone not might go like this –
      not-predisposed person goes on a diet – usually does not take it to an extreme, then goes on to maitenenance or stops diet and goes on with life.
      pre-disposed person goes on a diet and it’s all downhill from there – it gets taken to an extreme and it develops a life of it’s own – it turns into a life threatening ED.
      non-predisposed person is triggered by media/culture – they have body image dissatisfaction, might engage in dieting and exercise, might engage in disordered behaviours.
      pre-disposed person, again, is triggered off into a life threatening ED.

      please note that this is my opinion going by recent studies and articles – not stating fact here 🙂

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