A GoodTherapy.org News Update
Thanks to concerted efforts to raise awareness and understanding about eating disorders by special interest groups and medical practitioners around the country and across the planet, issues such as anorexia and bulimia are fairly well-known disorders whose grave effects on both emotional and physical health are widely acknowledged. Impacting the lives of scores of young women and other demographic groups with high instances of the disorders, anorexia and bulimia are generally looked upon as extremely debilitating and harmful. But there are some whose perspectives are in stark contrast to the norm; a growing community of “pro-ana” and “pro-bulimia” groups want professionals and the international community at large to regard the disorders as “lifestyle choices,” and are challenging the goals of mental health professionals who aim to improve the lives of the afflicted.
Websites championing anorexia and bulimia as “beautiful” and positive conditions have been gaining momentum over the past few years, primarily in the west but also as distant and seemingly unlikely as Malta, as a national news outlet reports. Such sites are dedicated to providing emotional and social havens for those with eating disorders, encouraging them to become as thin as possible through a variety of means. Some sites reportedly hold contests between members to see who can lose the most weight fastest; others offer “meal plans” containing dangerously low calories and nutrients.
As one of the most difficult blocks to reaching victims of anorexia and bulimia is fostering an understanding of the disorders’ nature as valid, documented mental health issues, these websites and communities present a considerable challenge to therapists and counselors working with these issues. The improvement and enlargement of programs that target eating disorders may be greatly needed to help counter the impact of these enabling communities bent on being unhealthily thin.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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