Parental Denial of Eating Disorders

When adults are in denial about their own eating disorder, they can be in a position to deny the eating disorder symptoms in their child or children. Parents can even be angry and punishing to a child with an eating disorder because the child’s behavior threatens the adults. The child’s symptoms have the potential to force adults to look more closely at themselves. These parents, who believe themselves to be loving and caring people, defend their denial and defend their distorted view of themselves and their child.  The tragic paradox of this situation is that their denial causes them to neglect and punish the child. This unempathic, non-supportive and punishing environment only increases the need for the child to maintain and develop more thoroughly, her own eating disorder. Seeing the child with empathy and realism would force the adult to recognize her own symptoms. This is one of the terrible tragedies in a family with unrecognized and untreated eating disorders moving through the system. What’s the answer? Pursuing health is always the answer, and courage is always required.

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