Monthly Archives: October 2007

carnival of eating disorders #10

welcome to this month’s carnival of eating disorders, a reader’s digest of blog posts about mental health issues related to problems such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, binge eating disorder, food addiction, exercise anorexia, as well as body image.

parents and anorexia
let’s start with a very controversial issue: pro-anorexia mothers. ex-model, ex-anorexic “mamavision” refers to a group of mothers on livejournal who are practicing anorexics:

there is no way in hell a mother can be pro ana, and be a healthy positive influence on her child. it’s impossible. these women who are are choosing this selfish, dangerous, vain lifestyle shouldn’t be parents. i believe if a social worker were to see their online behavior, their parental ability would be in jeopardy.

since i see eating disorders as a mental health issue, i have a hard time thinking of these mothers as “choosing a lifestyle”. just like people who are living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and even addictions don’t choose to live like that. in many situations they might tell themselves that it is a choice; it makes us feel more powerful if we think we choose something. – but i digress; that’s material for another post.

at any rate, mamavision’s opinion is worth noting. at the other end of the spectrum, we find a very well put-together video by laura collins, who interviewed a number of eating disorder specialists on the question of whether parents are the cause of eating disorders.

i’d be very interested in your opinion on this topic.

living in stigma presents some research on purging habits.

whether or not a person with an eating disorder uses more than one method of purging may be a better indicator of the severity of the disorder than how frequently purging occurs, results of a study suggest.

but purging frequency was linked to other, related psychological problems, dr. pamela k. keel of the university of iowa in iowa city and her colleagues found. “purging frequency was significantly associated with depression and anxiety,” keel told reuters health, “whereas multiple purging methods were significantly associated with eating disorder severity. so, each feature provided unique and clinically useful information.”

body image
hungry guy was the very first eating disorders related blog i read on a frequent basis, so i’m always particularly interested in learning about his journey. the post we’re highlighting today contains some reflections on assumptions about appearance such as

  • the 1st thing that people will notice about me is what’s wrong with my appearance.
  • if i could look just as i wish, my life would be much happier.
  • my appearance is responsible for much of what has happened to me in my life.
  • i should always do whatever i can to look my best.
  • the only way i could ever like my looks would be to change them.

food addiction
jolynn braley from the fit shack shares some findings on fast food addictions:

i came across an article about a study done on lab rats that demonstrated food creating the same brain changes that opioids do! this study covered the effect that the combination of sugar, fat, and salt had on the brains of the lab rats. the brain reacted the same as it did to heroin or morphine.

where do you find this combination of sugar, fat, and salt? in fast food of course!

these are the feature posts for this round. other contributions included:

do you have an interesting blog post about eating disorders?

are you recovering from anorexia or bulima and would like to share your insights?

have you dug up a useful research article on eating disorders, in whatever field of study: psychology, biology, neuroscience, sociology or any other field?

do you have some ideas on how to deal with body image problems?

what about a review of a book, movie or other creative endeavour on the topic?

what are your insights and experiences around overeating and food addiction?

all these and more are great additions to this carnival. so if you have something, please submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of eating disorders using our carnival submission form. the next carnival of eating disorders will be published on november 30.

hallowe’en treats

following in hootin’ annie’s scary footsteps, i promised i’d hand out hallowe’en link treats to strangers this week. here are some bloggers who’ve knocked on my door lately who i had never met before. i found them through stumbleupon, one of my favourite internet toys.

link love, relationships – and a treat

so much of blogging is about building relationships, and sometimes even friendships. and ideally, it’s not just about using relationships to further the blog; it’s about furthering relationships. maybe blogging can help us do that, can help us learn a bit about relationships.

take this:

linkfarming, linkbait, link begging and, urgh, link whoring.

these words don’t sound very nice, do they?

how about link love, blogging generously and building links?

much better.

it’s all about how we frame it. as bloggers, when we link to other blogs, are we whining to get attention, or are we nodding in someone’s direction? are we trying to grasp at something, or are we giving generously?

what’s the equivalent in real life?

name dropping vs. acknowledging.

manipulating vs. sharing.

politicians’ handshakes vs. friends hugging.

codependent vs. interdependent.

of course these things are rarely black and white. i would be a hypocrite if i said that my intentions were always pure as the driven snow, that i’m never whiny or graspy. but we can all honestly work to use blogging and all our relationships to make this world a better place.

when i link to a fellow blogger, i want to do it with the intention of acknowledgment, generosity and out of the sincere desire to assist my readers in accessing more quality content (i often spend way more time looking for good links than writing a post!) similarly, when i connect with someone outside of the blogosphere, i have the intention to enrich both of our lives, even if it is just in the most minute way.

and of course i want to have fun with it while we’re at it!

with that in mind, let’s join hootin’ annie this week in handing out hallowe’en link treats to bloggers i haven’t seen in ages or who i’ve never met before. (thanks, lifecruiser, for alerting me to this!)

today, the treats go to

hootin' annie's hallowe'en treat

benz insider (driving pleasure scientifically measured for the first time)
international mom (great header image!)
heavenly inclinations (god or not? heaven or not? hell or not? no one knows for sure)
taking place – a socially conscious blog
bioethics discussion blog – check out this post: if science is uncomfortable, delete it

my view of human nature

i just stumbled across my term paper of my very first counselling class, 17 years ago. here is what i wrote about my view of human nature. i’m sure i could nip and tuck here and there, and would probably use a slightly different writing style – but generally, most of what i said still holds true.

i believe that as human beings, we are good, free, and interconnected, both among our specie and with other life forms. i also believe each and every one of us is unique and has his or her special place in this world, and that every living being, without exception, deserves respect and acceptance.

humans are those animals living in a culture that revolves around using its most distinguished characteristic – intelligence – to invent and develop tools and processes that make life easier.

beliefs and values, such as mine about the goodness of human nature, are tools, as well – tools that help us understand the meaning and purpose of life.

my life experience and my beliefs are interacting constantly, reinforcing each other. i try to take a positive attitude towards my fellow human beings and assume that they reciprocate. the result is a generally friendly atmosphere in my interactions.

i often find that people who sometimes behave in a less acceptable way towards others behave more favourably towards me because that is what i expect from them. i rather accept the risk of being taken for a ride – which of course happens once in a while – than to live in constant suspicion.

other people see life differently, have different tools. what matters is that they do have tools, recognize and use them as such, and that they feel they are the crafters of their lives, not circumstances or their tools. this is a basic premise.

why is it so difficult to recognize that we are masters of our lives? of course, this is closely related to the very question of the purpose and meaning of life, an issue i cannot deal with in this essay.

a more immediate circumstance preventing us from realizing mastery of our lives is the paradox that although intrinsically we are free, in fact we are also limited. this can be so overwhelming that we may lose sight of our perspective of essential freedom.

limitations are genetic, social, cultural, racial – the list goes on. also, severe restrictions are placed upon us through childhood experiences. if, as an adult, we do not consciously evaluate and, where necessary, change our decisions based upon them, they will be our most consequential limitations.

opposite our limitations lie our potentials. i hold that our options outnumber our restrictions, and that the sheer number of anyone’s potentials is so large that he will never be able to exhaust them.

furthermore, we have this wonderful tool called perception which helps us to bend and shape our limitations. we can try to overlook them, for example, or turn them into advantages or at least neutral conditions.

how we perceive and how we deal with the results of our perceptions, depends on our individual character. although i personally work from a “feeling/thinking” mode and at times have difficulty comprehending that anyone wouldn’t do the same, i have had many experiences that forced me to realize that others often see and live in the world differently.

(this post was mentioned – well, kinda –  in the gonzo papers blog bash


one of my favourite sayings is, “acceptance is the key.” it’s something that can be misinterpreted as fatalism, as acting like a doormat. but that’s now how it works. acceptance is saying, “ok, this is what is. this is what presents itself. let’s deal with that, rather than denying what’s going on or deluding myself.”

my wonderful blogging friend nickie has written a very insightful post about acceptance. nickie is a young woman who lives with RSD, a severe chronic pain condition. please go to her blog and read what she has to say; her wisdom goes way beyond her age and her illness. here are a few teasers.

one topic which i still struggle with in dealing with RSD, and pain in general, is acceptance. i find it difficult to accept the pain, and the challenges it brings to my life. i want to get better; i don’t want to accept the pain, and the way it’s gotten worse. but recently, i started to realize that maybe, i don’t have to accept the whole thing, just little parts at a time, and maybe each part needs to be accepted multiple times.

i frequently want to have needs which are exactly the same as the needs of other. but that’s not always possible, and i’m working on accepting that.

another need is the need for relaxation and self-care time.

one thing which i frequently need to accept is that i need to acknowledge my feelings, acknowledge my pain and acknowledge the things i do well. … one example is blogging. i’ll sometimes write about how upset, sad or challenged i feel in dealing with something. i usually start by writing “i feel bad about writing this, but…” then write in depth about whatever it is i am upset about. that simple step seems to help a great deal.

accepting the need for mutual support … one of the common values of americans tends to be the desire for complete independence. we don’t like thinking we need support.

acceptance is a journey, because we need to find the right level of acceptance. for example, accepting the need for acknowledgement is good, but accepting it to the level where all i do is acknowledge my feelings and pain wouldn’t be healthy.

thanks for sharing yourself with us, nickie! you make the world a richer place.

share your story

journallinghave you experienced recovery and healing in your life? goodtherapy, a great new resource for people who believe in affirmative therapy, therapy that is non-pathologizing, empowering, collaborative is starting a healing story collection. if you have something to share, go here.

the first contribution you’ll find starts like this:

once upon a time there was a wonderful little girl, sensitive, intelligent, gifted. she was so sensitive that it was easy for her to see words that weren’t spoken. words that other people did not speak swirled through the air but ended up inside of her.

when she was not very old, and couldn’t even describe it with words, she noticed that there was a shadow on her father.

when she grew old enough to express the feelings (though only in her own quiet little mind), these were her words: “i am not sure that my father loves me. sometimes he seems to love me. but i’m not sure that he really loves me. he is so far away. his eyes are heavy and sometimes when he looks at me it’s as if he doesn’t even see me, or he sees me from a long distance. i think his smile looks so watered down because it has to travel so far to come from him to me.”

for the rest, read on at little lil – a story about trying to be perfect

13 encouraging questions

“never mind the answers – just ask the right questions!”

this is so true. last sunday i participated in a conference, dream vancouver, intended to encourage citizens to articulate their visions and hopes for an even better vancouver. the main process of the conference was organized around appreciative inquiry.

appreciative inquiry is a philosophy and approach that engages individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. at the heart of AI is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. it utilizes a 4-stage process focusing on:

  • discovery
  • dreaming
  • design; and
  • delivery

all of these processes are driven by questions. this is not much different from therapy, particularly an approach to therapy very dear to my heart, satir transformational systemic therapy.

here are a few examples of powerful questions. they can be used in many ways, among other ways in supporting people in moving forward with particular issues they might find a bit intimidating. they are encouraging questions, then.

  1. imagine getting up on monday morning. what will you say to yourself to support yourself when you talk to the principal at 10:00?
  2. what exciting feelings come up as you think about handing in your resignation tomorrow?
  3. you said that just thinking about making that phone call to bob makes you want to bite your nails. what would have to happen for you to completely forget about your nails?
  4. what would supper look like if your kids got along better?
  5. if you did manage to get up before 11:00, how would that make your whole day better?
  6. what would calm down the scared part of you?
  7. let’s just say that for some reason, tom will use his kind voice when he comes home tonight, not his angry voice. will your stomach feel better?
  8. are you listening to the still voice inside you?
  9. clearly, there are a lot of things you can’t do. what can you do, even a little thing?
  10. who is your greatest ally?
  11. you say you feel calm right now. what can you do to remember this feeling next wednesday?
  12. what can you do to reward yourself afterwards?
  13. who else in your family needs support so that everyone feels they’re part of planning this wedding?

what questions encourage you?

(this post was mentioned in the 110th carnival of healing and has also been entered in litemind’s list group writing project)



share your scare, says lifecruiser. a propos hallowe’en, she’s collecting stories about bloggers’ biggest scares. here’s mine.

okay, this was quite a few years ago. i had just facilitated an incredibly exhausting focus group at the carnegie centre (everyone who knows the carnegie centre will immediately nod, “yes, that would be exhausting”).

that afternoon, my daughter’s internet boyfriend was supposed to have arrived from utah. but it turned out that he was held up at immigration. he hadn’t brought a passport and somehow the immigration officers found his goth outfit, his cat contact lenses, and the vampire teeth and cape in his suitcase … um … “interesting”. the fact that he happily volunteered the reason for his visit – to finally meet face-to-face his under-18 girlfriend whom he had met on the internet – did not decrease their … um … “interest” in him. scary cat-eye vampire

so i trekked out to the airport and unchained the poor guy from the immigration officers. he seemed a nice enough young man; we all had already talked to him on the phone, and in person he seemed fine, too.

my daughter had selected a cosy little B&B for him to stay, and we drove him there. we had decided on that together. she could spend the days and evenings with him but on no account was she to stay the night with him. also, by having him somewhere else, if he turned out to be a nasty person face-to-face, she (and we) could easily stay away from him.

so everything was ok.

except the next morning when i woke up, my daughter wasn’t home.

that was the biggest scare of my life. within a split second, all the horror stories of internet predators came home to roost with me, and roost they did. my brain turned to complete mush, i was so filled with fear, i couldn’t even talk.

how could i have been so naïve to think that just by talking to someone for a little while, i could measure whether he was a good person? how could i disregard all the warnings about internet predators? how could i dismiss the misgivings of the immigration people who after all have a nose for the “wrong” people? oh god, maybe my daughter was already somewhere in toronto, being sold to a white slave trader, oh god, maybe worse?

all these thoughts went through my head, only not, by any stretch of the imagination, in such an articulate manner. it was like a wet, heavy bundle of fear and recrimination thundering through my mind, destroying everything in its wake like a hurricane down in florida.

after a few minutes, i managed to find the address of the B&B where this young man was staying and to convey to my husband that we needed to phone them. i couldn’t do it, i could hardly communicate with my husband.

he phoned. no answer.

my fear went into overdrive. to this day i remember how my whole body felt like jello. not the nice jello that you get in a restaurant but the clumpy, cellulite-looking stuff out on the kitchen counter after a horde of kids have attacked it and left it there for 3 hours.

my husband packed me in the car and we drove over to the place. we rang the doorbell.

once. twice. no answer.

was this really the right place? come to think of it, it did look a little old and spooky, didn’t it?

finally, someone came to the door. i managed to ask whether someone by the name of so-and-so was there. “oh yes, he’s having breakfast, and his girlfriend is there, too!”

at first, i didn’t comprehend. girlfriend? this horrible white slave trader is here with his girlfriend when he’s supposed to be here to visit …

oh. girlfriend.

apparently the girlfriend had heard me at the door. she came out.

“mom, what are you doing here?”

my husband explained that we hadn’t found her in her room and had become “a little worried” (he’s the master of the understatement). i just stood there.

you see, driven by her romantic hormones in her wisdom, she had decided to visit the young man after everyone else had gone to bed and to stay over because “it was unsafe to come home by bus”.

that’s the story of my biggest scare. maybe if i hadn’t already been exhausted by work the day before and a little spooked by the dramatic arrival at the airport, this wouldn’t’ have affected me so much. it’s not as if i hadn’t had scarier things happen. but there you have it.

the young man turned out to be A-OK, he went back to utah, they split up, they’re still friends.

and it wasn’t his cat-eyes and vampire fangs that gave me the biggest scare of my life. it was just my own mother-fear.