Understanding Mental Health: conditions, caring, and contexts – Dr Calum Munro, Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are understandable as a way of coping with uncomfortable feelings. A temporary sense of reward or emotional detachment can occur due to maladaptive eating. The disorders are driven by fears about being unacceptable. Beliefs about people with eating disorders being selfish or overly concerned about beauty, still seem to arise. In reality they tend to have an excessively low opinion of their appearance and are usually kind and generous to a fault. The belief that what is required to cure an eating disorder is to ‘just eat normally’, is still frequently expressed to people with these complex psychological disorders. I also believe the risk of premature death from an eating disorder is commonly exaggerated in public and professional discourse, with potentially unhelpful consequences for treatment. My hope for the future is that overly simplistic theories about and treatment of eating disorders will give way to more complex, integrated, holistic approaches to care.

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