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Reflections on Eating Disorder Recovery: development and narcissistic abuse

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After over 30 years of doing eating disorder recovery work with adults I clearly see that the disorder developed as a way of coping with otherwise insurmountable emotional distress. Whether the cause is a natural developmental weakness or a healthy developmental process that is thwarted by subtle or blatant trauma varies with the individual. Either way, healing and recovery has to do with rebooting the natural and healthy developmental process in the person.

I'm also seeing in many eating disorder clients a past or present or continued relationship with narcissists. The clients often are not aware they are subject to narcissistic abuse because they don't recognize it.

As they continue to experience the abuse their ability to think clearly and function well erodes. They feel guilt and shame. They feel isolated and overwhelmed with responsibilities.

The eating disorder gives them a break and creates a mindless zone of perceived safety. With these people, and this seems to be a growing population, recognizing abuse and discovering, then defending personal boundaries, is key to the beginning of solid recovery.

Please share your opinions and experience on this sensitive a painful topic.


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