Healing Your Hungry Heart

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How Long Does it Take to Recover from Bulimia or Anorexia? Part 2

Why does recovery from anorexia or bulimia take years? Because vital developmental tasks must be addressed, and development takes time. Let’s look at what needs to be accomplished in recovery.

Psychological Function of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders develop to serve a protective psychological function.
  1. They protect a person from being aware of what they cannot bear to know or feel. 
  2. They give a person a sense of control when the person has little real control over what's important to them.
  3. They give a person a private island of limited sensation and limited awareness. This is a defense that helps when a person is incapable of preventing physical, psychological or emotional boundary invasion.
  4.  They create an obsessive sense of entitlement to make up for the lack of boundary awareness or the lack of knowledge or skill in honoring personal boundaries or limits. 
  5. They protect a person through numbness and obsessive thinking from knowing what they feel such as anger, fear, disappointment, regret, guilt and shame. A person may even need to block feelings of love, passion and joy if knowledge of those feelings would disrupt the status quo of her environment. 
  6. Eating disorders allow limited but intense feelings to surge within the person and explode out as a form of relief from tension. These episodes are often highly dramatic and can be both manipulative and destructive in relationships. 
  7. In many situations eating disorders protect a person from knowing she is competent, intelligent, capable and creative when such knowledge might be disruptive to her present life and the imagined (and sometimes real) consequences are intolerable. 

Necessary Psychological Development
Healing from anorexia and bulimia requires deep, rich and healthy development along many layers of the personality. When this is achieved the person can cope with the difficult ordinary and sometimes extraordinary challenges life presents without the protection of the eating disorder. Healing also frees a woman to be capable of giving and receiving honest emotions in worthwhile relationships. As a matter of fact, healing frees a woman to actually be a woman. I’d be glad to elaborate on any of these points. Please feel free to ask questions and share your opinions and experiences in the comments. In the service of easy blog reading I’m trying to keep posts as short as I can while still giving you as much recovery information as possible. In my next post I’ll talk about the work required to heal from bulimia and anorexia.
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