Watching Brutal Videos and Films: Harmful in Eating Disorder Early Recovery


Colorado Waldo Canyon Fire Image 19 of 24 2If you have an eating disorder, if you suffer from anorexia or bulimia, if you have a history of abuse, please be careful about exposing yourself to brutality. Be aware of the danger for you, in life certainly, and in videos, photos and films that depitc brutal actions.

*pix This woman has the skill, courage and training to meet and subdue the fire.  You can learn to cope with the fires in your life that were beyond your power in the past iff you give yourself the time, attention and practice,  First you need to honor your present limits.

 "Triggering" is too easy a description. In the psychology field it's called Retraumatization.

Exposing yourself to depictions of brutality can bring you to an emotional time in your life when you were vulnerable and powerless to  care for yourself.

The fear and pain can be unbearable. Originally it may have been so unbearable that you needed to develop an eating disorder to block the pain or make yourself numb or oblivious.

When you learn to care for yourself you also learn to accept the realistic limits of what you canand cannot  bear. As you develop you can tolerate more awareness of the hardships and violence in this dangerous world.  But you need to honor and respect your limits in the here and now as you are today.

Also, when pressures of life are particularly stressful, your limits may be pressed even before exposure to violence or brutality in entertainment or in news.  Recovery work involves learning to recognize and appreciate your tolerance levels so you can function in life.  

If you learn to care and protect yourself you not only avoid the brutality experience. You also learn that you CAN care for yourself.

One of the many reasons psychotherapy is helpful is that you have a safe place to get to know your vulnerabilities without putting yourself at risk in the world.  You learn how to make quality judgements about what you choose to allow in your life.  You leave a theater or change channels or go back to browse when you find you are crossing your threshold into something more than you can bear.

This helps you learn to recognize points of threat and danger in your life as well.  You learn when to leave a conversation or the physical presence of someone when you feel a familiar feeling that indicates you are near or just past your limits.

 You learn to honor and tend to your vulnerabilities.  That leads to real healing.

"Recovery from trauma involves learning how to restore a sense of visceral safety, and reclaiming a loving relationship with one's self, one's entire organism."  Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

*pix  Vandenberg Air Force Base Hot Shot fire fighter Marissa Halbeisen helps cut and clear a fire line on June 28, 2012 in the Mount Saint Francois area of Colorado Springs, Co. while helping to battle several fires in Waldo Canyon.  U.S. Air Force Photo by: Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock,  As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.


The Trauma Center is a program of Justice Resource Institute (JRI), a large nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice by offering hope and promise of fulfillment to children, adults, and families who are at risk of not receiving effective services essential to their safety, progress, and/or survival. The Executive Director of the Trauma Center is Joseph Spinazzola, Ph.D., and the Medical Director and Founder of the Trauma Center is Bessel van der Kolk, MD, who is an internationally recognized leader in the field of psychological trauma.

Interview with Bessel van der Kolk on Trauma, Development and Healing

Approaches to the Treatment of PTSD by Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., Onno van der Hart, Ph.D.,
Jennifer Burbridge, M.A.


0 # I'm not a fan of brutality, but I do lovPTC 2011-11-08 05:53
I'm not a fan of brutality, but I do love ED movies and books, so I watch and read a lot of them. I have a library of ED movies on tape, yep, I said on tape, as in VHS. I guess I won't be able to watch those in the near future unless I hang onto my VCR.
0 # Dear PTC, Nice to see you here again.pinkjoanna 2011-11-10 01:27
Dear PTC,

Nice to see you here again. :-)

What do you get from these books and movies? Do they help you with your recovery efforts or do they reinforce eating disorder thinking and behaviors? Or something else?

And, of course, having a library of these movies and books says nothing about how often you actually watch and read them.

Personally I tend to have a collection of books and videos for each of my interests. That doesn't mean I read and watch them often. I go to them when I need information or inspiration.

How do you use your eating disorder books and movies?
0 # I probably don't use my movies and booksPTC 2011-11-10 14:01
I probably don't use my movies and books in a positive way. I just love watching/reading that stuff. In the past I used these things to keep me from eating and to give me motivation to be better at starving myself. I don't do that so much anymore, I think I just watch them because I enjoy them and can related to the characters. Many times though, I feel like the people in these books and movies are so much worse than I am so it makes me feel like I don't have an ED, or that mine's really not that bad.

I go in phases of watching them a lot and then not watching. I'll youtube a lot of ED stuff too. I read books when I can get my hands on them.
0 # What else do you read, PTC? I have apinkjoanna 2011-11-10 18:57
What else do you read, PTC?

I have a long list - mostly in my mind - of books and authors I want to read before I die. I've had this list for a long time and move on it sporadically. But.... every time I read something on the list I grow. I learn a new perspective. My outer world and inner world expands.

Right now I'm reading Tom Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel. It's tearing my heart out with beauty and human passions.

What's on your list? Do you have one? Maybe it's time to pick up the words of a genius and go on a new inward journey. Eating disorder material is so limiting, especially if you use it to stay in the eating disorder.

Why not venture out? Theordore Driser's American Tragedy might be a possibility. Or maybe something entirely different. Did you ever read Gone with the Wind? There's a woman to know!

Give your mind a stretch, PTC. It's a terrific gift to yourself.
0 # I don't have a list because I never readPTC 2011-11-11 04:19
I don't have a list because I never read. I'm not really into reading, which is funny because my mom LOVES reading. The gene didn't get passed down to us kids.
0 # You can change that at any time. Find spinkjoanna 2011-11-11 21:09
You can change that at any time. Find something that connects with your interests or your imagination and give it a whirl.

If you have a favorite TV show or movie that originated with a book or series of books, try reading them. Reading the original book is always a richer experience than watching the film - even when the film is excellent.
0 # I don't really watch the much TV, just tPTC 2011-11-12 04:01
I don't really watch the much TV, just the news, Seinfeld, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.

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