Sunday Smörgåsbord

It's once again time for your weekly Sunday Smorgasbord, where I trawl the web for the latest ED-related research, news, and more so you don't have to.

Anorexia nervosa complicated by OCD. Another wonderful video from C and M Productions.

Is the campaign against childhood obesity responsible for the increase in eating disorders? Likely, says this psychologist.

10 Eating Disorder Resources for Families from Jenni Schaefer.

The relationship between compulsive buying, eating disorder symptoms, and temperament in a sample of female students.

Is there an upside to anxiety? One psychologist says anxiety provides us with drive, focus, and directed attention.

Non-suicidal self-injury in eating disordered patients: A test of a conceptual model.

Why I don't diet: Anatomy of a 5-day binge. (trigger warning for bingeing, weight loss stuff)

Stanford Researchers Develop Video Games That Let You Interact With Bacteria (This has nothing to do with EDs, but I just think it is so freaking cool. My undergrad research was in microbiology, my mom was a microbiologist of sorts, it's in the blood.)

Interesting theory of pleasure/addiction: multiple selves vying for control

Factors affecting crossover from anorexia (both subtypes) to bulimia.

Association between neuroendocrinological parameters and learning and memory functions in adolescent anorexia nervosa before and after weight recovery.

Exercise a Treatment for Eating Disorders?

Think you're not intelligent? Take the Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences.

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Katie said...

Oooh, so much I wanted to read this week! First of all, I have to disagree a little with the article about the benefits of anxiety. The author makes several good points but she says at one point that anxiety itself is not problematic - it is our response to it that is. That may be true for many people, particularly those who suffer from "simple" phobias perpetuated by avoiding the trigger, but I am certain that some people have sort of oversensitive nervous systems which results in them being more anxious than the general population regardless of whether they learn to deal with it or not. I am extremely good at defusing panic attacks (after 22 years of them, grr) with CBT and DBT techniques, but those techniques can't stop them happening in the first place, because my body seems to overreact to things like loud noises and crowded/hot rooms. It's not my thoughts about the events which trigger off the anxiety, my nervous system just seems to operate on a hair trigger!

Indirectly related I am pleased to see the study on SI and eating disorders, but I wish they had mentioned other factors alongside childhood trauma. My poor mum tried to learn about self harm when I was younger and was put off by the fact that all the literature seems to suggest that young people who self harm severely were all abused. I know that abuse is one of the major triggers for SI but I wish other predisposing factors would get a look in, because it is harmful for kids who haven't been traumatised to be treated as if they are about to reveal some abuse any day by professionals.

I LOVE anatomy of a five day binge, I hope it helps other people who struggle with bingeing to feel less alone :)

The study on exercise as prevention for EDs makes me extremely nervous, given the propensity of people with eating disorders to become obsessive about anything that might help them change their shape/weight. People with low self esteem might benefit from it, but I am not certain their results will be the same once they start trying it on people with diagnosed EDs.

I've written far too much, sorry!

Cathy (UK) said...

C&M Productions is really taking off :)

Love the interaction with bacteria thing!!

Interesting neuroendocrine study. It seems as though the same changes that are involved in the shut-down of the HPO axis in AN also affect memory and mood.

I agree with Katie above about the anxiety, exercise and SI studies. some people who develop EDs have constitutional anxiety and develop OCD, SI behaviours etc. for no apparent or external reason. I had panic attacks and meltdowns as a very small child and my parents didn't abuse me. As for exercise... for me, personally, exercise dependence was more a driver for my AN than undereating (because I exercised to relieve anxiety). I could never set foot in a gym safely again.

Charlotte UK said...


Thank you for promoting us. It is an addiction now. Will talk soon - promise. Also, your anger post has sorted out a BIG problem in this house. You are a star

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for posting these for us to check out! The two articles I found most interesting were the exercise and anxiety ones.

I do have to say, I have said many times to myself that if I would have found pilates before my eating disorder I would not have developed one. God only knows if this is true or not, but I really feel that it would have prevented it. Exercising always calms my anxieties, and I admit even though I am doing it secretly at the moment for about 10 minutes a day, those 10 minutes are all I need to feel somewhat good about myself. I feel like if I were to express this to my mom or my therapist, though, they would think that I was putting an excuse behind my wanting or love for exercise.

The article on anxiety I can see both sides to. I feel that the author is right in saying that anxiety is good for awareness, but then again too much anxiety obviously is not a good thing. Anyone who has anxiety obviously knows that it is not a good feeling at all. I think that the author used anxiety too lightly. The way she uses it seems more as worry or the feeling of forgetting something than anxiety. Maybe it's just me.

Have a great day!

JenRave said...

I was totally with the theory on multiple selves and a lot of what he had to say until he got to "self-binding" and using food as an example, and holding up the example of the self who diets as the "good" self and the self who will let themselves have a slice of cake as the "bad" self, then implying all people who are morbidly obese give in to the bad self all the time and then support their decision by only looking at evidence that being fat isn't so bad for them. Bleah.

hm said...

This is my own perspective, not researched or anything, just my thoughts-

I think perhaps that the personality traits of the AN person make them susceptible to abuse. Lack of accurate social expression perception, detached from bodily sensations and from emotions- these traits make them susceptible to abuse from others as well as from themselves. Thus the NSSI, the starvation... is it that far of a stretch to think that they might be prone to stumbling into abusive situations with others?

Note: I am NOT laying blame with the victim. NOT AT ALL. Or taking away from the fact that some people have been traumatized, and their EDs may have been a result of that. I'm treading on delicate ground here. I am sorry if it feels sensitive to anyone, and do not wish to negate anyone's story.

But my own story contains childhood trauma, and I do not think at all that the trauma caused the ED or the NSSI, for me. I think I was just too socially unaware to recognize danger. Everyone felt "dangerous," but I didn't catch on at all when I was actually IN danger. And so detached from my body and emotions that I dissociated and allowed it without the abuser needing to be too forceful or try too hard. I think I was a "prime" victim, BECAUSE of my issues.

I did not collect my issues as a result of being victimized. I just wonder if that might be anyone else's experience too- and if therapists sometimes jump too quickly to blaming the trauma for a person's issues, and focusing work on that- when in reality, the trauma was not a precursor for but rather a biproduct OF the issues- therefore, the issues deserve the focus.

For me, much of therapy has revolved around ways to make myself safe by becoming more accurately aware of situations, people, feelings around me. A doctor examining me feels just as dangerous to me as a strange man grabbing my ass. If the one "has to" happen, why not the other? These things confused me as a child, and opened the door for trauma.

Katie said...

hm - I developed an eating disorder at age 12/13 and was assaulted at 18, and I would say in my case that your theory may be true. I was also bullied at school before my ED began. I just seem to attract predators. I'm sure the bullying was because I was different - anxious, not terribly confident, very sensitive to criticism. When it came to the assault I feel that I really should have guessed the intentions of the people involved, but I have never trusted my instincts, and I know they picked me because of my existing vulnerabilities. However, although it is true that predators are attracted to vulnerable people, I don't think this is always the case. Sometimes - often, in fact - it's just opportunity.

Cathy (UK) said...

hm raises a valid point above, even though it makes me feel uncomfortable to think that I attracted abuse. I come from a very loving family and my parents would never have abused me. However, I was both bullied and sexually abused on a number of occasions by people outside of my family. I seemed to attract such individuals like a magnet because I was naive, gullible, wanted to be liked, was socially anxious and probably 'oozed' lack of self confidence. And I didn't fight back; I blamed myself and thought that people bullied/abused me because I was a bad person. I starved myself as self punishment on many occasions.

hm said...

Katie and Cathy (UK)- LOVE to both of you. Loads and loads of it.

I too was from a very loving, strong family, and found abuse outside my home. I was very self-confidant in some ways as a child, but gullible and socially unaware. And had zero confidence in my ability to protect myself from abuse. I thought that any and all abuse I experienced was normal, and also my fault. I believed those kinds of things just happened to me (shrug). I had an internal theory that I must emit some kind of vibes that attract that sort of thing, and I had no control over it. I believed this fully, and even into adulthood ran into situations where I was touched inappropriately. I would just freeze and let it happen- wait it out till it's over, b/c I have no control over it. Stand still b/c if you fight, it hurts more. (Dissociation was and still is a grand friend of mine.)

My therapist told me there is no such thing as a defective person that attract abuse. But there are such things as undeveloped personal boundaries and dissociation. And she said that I could learn to establish strong boundaries around my body and myself to avoid these situations, or to find a way to step out of them once they are initiated instead of dissociating. All the while reminding me that the abuse was not my fault- it seems an oxymoron to say it's not my fault, but at the same time to encourage me to take control so that it stops happening. But that is the way of it with therapy- understanding where you can make healthy changes without disparaging yourself for not making them sooner.

Learning to not dissociate in a moment of inappropriate verbal bullying or physical touch has been HUGE for me. I realized that the dissociation actually caused me to "encourage" the abuser- to move closer to the abuse. In my subconscious, it was a way to get it over with faster and to make it easier on me. To the abuser it looked like encouragement.

I've learned to say "You will not speak to me like that." Or "Don't ever touch me." The first time I forced words like those out of my gut, it felt like shouting through a megaphone from the back of a long tunnel, but I could barely hear my voice. My head was spinning and I was out of air. But every time I accomplished it, I got stronger. And stronger.

I am to the point where I now believe I do NOT have to be abused- it is NOT my lot in life. I have the right to be safe.

Of course, there will always be the possibility of situations where you actually do have zero control- forced rape in an alley (God forbid), whatever. But those little things- the things that constantly showed up here and there and convinced me it was me, I was a person-shaped magnet for ick, it was just my lot in life- those don't happen to me anymore. I've learned to feel confidant in my ability to protect myself, to recognize and stay out of dangerous situations, to use my body and words in such a way as to establish boundaries between me and abusive people. Learning the to move far away from abuse rather than moving towards it- learning to stay present in my body. I don't have to stay a victim.

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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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