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  • Writer's picturerhoyte8

Eating Disorders and Identity

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

We live in a world where many people they present an image to others that they think others will find desirable, whether this be the images they post on social media that may be filtered to portray a body image of thinness that they have been indoctrinated to believe is desirable or when interacting with others, acting in a way that portrays them to be the life of the party, while masking huge underlying insecurities. For some people these insecurities may manifest in a variety of ways including body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent and impacts both men and women, when someone close to us has an eating disorder, it can place lot of stress and anxiety on parents, partners and family members, usually by the time loved ones realise that there is a problem, the eating disorder has been impacting on the person’s life for some time. Loved ones usually endeavour to help and can view the solution as a simple one i.e., in the case of someone with anorexia they think it is as simple as telling them or making them eat. In the case of bulimia they think it is as simple as telling them/making them eat less. In their attempts to help they misunderstand the complexities of eating disorders, resulting in everyone getting frustrated and relationships becoming strained. As the person continues to struggles with their eating disorder, relationships with loved ones become more challenged and distant. This sometimes results in the person with the eating disorder engaging in hidden behaviours i.e., eating and then purging, to prevent further frustrations in their relationships with loved ones.

Loved ones can become focused on the eating patterns of the person with the eating disorder, resting in the person’s insecurities around their identity being neglected, potentially making recovery more difficult. No one is born with an eating disorder and all of us engage in unhelpful behaviours at various times in our life’s. These unhelpful behaviours are usually learnt behaviours and we believe that they help us navigate our challenged i.e., how many of us have a glass of wine (or a bottle of wine) after work, after having a stressful day. The more stressful days we have sometimes the more we drink. Eating disorders can be a manifestation of the insecurities people have or a way of managing difficult feelings.

When we have a positive identity of self we have a more holistic view of who we are and do not exclusive focus on body image as our identity but as a part of our overall identity. Positive identity of self means that we become less absorbed with perfection in our body image at the expense of subjugating other parts of our identity. Positive identity of self means that we have a more balanced way of paying attention to all aspects of our identity, this means

• having a healthy body image but not becoming obsessive about our body image

• developing our social skills

• developing our emotional management and emotional regulation skills

• personal growth and development

People with eating disorders usually present with difficulties in these areas and helping them to develop these areas of their identity can be very helpful in their recovery.

At “R Hoyte Psychotherapy Services” (www.rhoyte.co.uk) we have a holistic approach to recovery an have found that this approach helps people to address their insecurities and live happier lives

If you or someone know is having difficulties with body image issues or with their eating patterns, You should seek help from your local GP. Other services that you may find helpful, Beat Eating disorders” (www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk). R Hoyte Psychotherapy services can also be found on Beat eating disorders–helpfinder(https://helpfinder.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/r-hoyte-psychotherapy-services)


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