Why ask "why"?

So many therapists and clinicians are obsessed with figuring out the "why" behind eating disorders.

"Why are you restricting?"
"Why did you start your eating disorder?"
"Why are you unwilling to change?"
"Why do you need to be thin?"

Why why why why why.....

Of course, some amount of "why" matters. But the simple fact remains that anorexia, as a neurobiological illness, has no why. It's like any other illness. Why are you diabetic? Why are you a dwarf? Just GROW already, dammit! Why won't you grow??? Why do you want to stay short?

As a scientist, I like asking the "why" questions: why is the sky blue? Why do I have red hair? Why does rain smell? I like answers, neat solutions, being able to say: Yes. That's it. That's why.

With anorexia, I can't do that, even on a personal level. Why me? Why depression? Why anorexia? Why OCD? Why now? There are no answers to that question. I can talk about brain receptors and serotonin and dopamine and leptin, but those aren't satisfying. Not in the way that I want them to be. But I know the why not's of my eating disorder.

I'm not anorexic because:

  • I want to look like a model
  • I want revenge on my parents
  • I want to look like a boy
  • I want to do the whole feminine dieting thing

That's a load of bull. Yet, on some level, those answers are more personally satisfying. You can see them, understand them. "Exaggerated 5-HT1A receptor activity" just doesn't seem to cut it, even though things like this are likely the reasons why of anorexia.

I want it to make sense. Accepting that it probably won't is what enables me to move forward.

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marcella said...

This reminds me of the obituary for Arthur Crisp whose (outdated) views on eating disorders were being discussed in a forum I visit. His views may have been discredited but his quest for WHY is every true scientists drive. http://www.eced.org.uk/Arthur%20H.%20Crisp.htm

sunshine girl said...

Can you post a research link to find out more about this gene? Thanks!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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