Anorexia was just a rebound after I fell out of love with myself. I wanted to like myself and anorexia gave me results I could measure It gave me control, I fought anyone who tried to take that away from me It was up to me to realize that my source of control was controlling me, I was getting skinnier, but I wasn’t getting happier and if it kept going the way I thought I wanted, eventually I would die.
Katie McCorkell is President of Active Minds at the University Washington, a club dedicated to fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness. She is majoring in Psychology, and also studying Chinese. She draws her poetic inspiration from Youth Speaks Seattle.
This is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For more information visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ or call the free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Pacific Standard Time: 1-800-931-2237.
Then why do we wait until middle school to introduce “Health” to the kids as part of a formal curriculum, that coincidentally, happens in a period when kids are just becoming rebellious?
If parents don’t place living healthfully high on their priority list, how are kids supposed to learn about the importance of eating well, being active, having great relationships, enjoying sex, relaxing, etc.
But the most important question is, how do we teach infants and toddlers about health? Of course we do it through example, but then what are the teaching aids, the books, and truly entertaining things that emphasize living well?
It turns out that the answer has much to do with how well attached we were to our caregivers during infancy:
Scientists out of the University of Minnesota have been following a group of subjects since the mid-1970s and recently had them come into the lab with their romantic partners. Couples were asked to discuss something they disagreed on, and then they were given a cool-down period, talking about something they both liked. The researchers noticed a trend during these innocuous cool downs. Some couples, no matter how intense the fighting, could very easily transition to a happy conversation, where as other couples—could be one or both individuals—seemed stuck on the disagreement and were incapable of moving on.
Researchers studied subject histories and found that those who were securely attached to their caregivers during infancy were better at recovering from fights 20 years later.
While I recognize there may be many short-term benefits to cognitive behavioral therapy, I also know first-hand that it’s capable of mechanizing dysfunction. It can be like repurposing broken pieces to craft something new, unfamiliar — and not necessarily better. The latest issue of Intelligent Lifeaddresses this limitation:
The irony is that in becoming more “scientific”, CBT becomes less therapeutic. Now, Freud himself liked to be thought of as a scientist (he began his career in neurology, working on the spinal ganglia), but it’s the non-scientific features that make psychoanalysis the more, not the less, powerful. I’m referring to the therapeutic relationship itself. Although like psychoanalysis largely a talking cure, CBT prefers to set aside the emotions in play between doctor and patient. Psychoanalysis does the reverse. To the annoyance no doubt of many a psychoanalytic patient, the very interaction between the two becomes the subject-matter of the therapy.
This emotional muddling between analyst and patient is known in the trade as “transference”, and it’s important because it’s the way most of our relationships play out in the real world—as ambiguously defined contracts. This isn’t to say the analyst is short of techniques for managing that muddle, but it is to say that there’s no naively “clinical” position to be assumed. The consulting room thus transforms itself into a laboratory in which patients can learn about their impact on someone else in real time, and thus grow in self-awareness—which is the prerequisite for self-improvement.