Research and Writing

Anorexia and storytelling? Anorexia and metaphors? Anorexia and darkness?

Whilst writing about my experience with anorexia, I came across an article titled, ‘Listening in the dark: why we need stories of people living with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa’. It immediately grabbed my attention . Conti et al explored metaphors and recovery in an article published on 15/12/2016 in the Journal of Eating Disorders.

darkness and light

As a physiotherapist of 37 tears experience and a service provider, I am acutely aware that my choice of language, indeed my attitude to the client’s  diagnosis, affects their recovery. I

This article deals with those clients who fall through the cracks who have been sick for over seven years whose lifestyle, social life and emotional life are impacted. Clinical training does not include how people understand their experiences and how they integrate these as they heal.

Chronic conditions may be viewed as more problematic. This view perpetuates itself.

Anorexia is often described in negative terms metaphorically, seen as an adversary to be overcome. At best the ‘rite of passage’ metaphor is applied, where a person chooses to live, embarking on self growth and transformation.

Do therapists unwittingly contribute to extending the life of problematic identities by ascribing to these metaphors? Are they helping? Maybe a broader form of listening is required. Could it be advantageous to sit a while with the darkness? Is the darkness always uniformly black or could the darkness contain a seed of the opposite? Can darkness and light live together?

The good girl, not making any waves may not ask for what she needs. She may not know how or might have given up after a long history of not being heard. Suppressed emotions, stories subsequently not told impair healing. It takes courage to share, for a woman to feel safe telling her story knowing it will be honoured. Each person is unique. Each experience is unique.

It is exciting that research of this nature is being undertaken. This final sentence encapsulates an exciting new direction, one of hope. ‘Here, at the end of the long road, we come to acknowledge that women’s bodies and narratives must be defined by themselves, while we acknowledge their unique knowledge and our responsibility to learn from them.’ Conti et al

I have included the link for those who would like to read more.

Listening in the dark: why we need stories of people living with severs and enduring anorexia nervosa

What do you think? Kindly leave a comment.




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