I am running out of reading material. Please comment if you have any more suggestions for ED books! xxx

Monday, 20 June 2011

Life Inside the "Thin" Cage

A personal look into the hidden world of the chronic dieter

By Constance Rhodes

Shall I start with the good points or the bad? I think I'll start with some observations then go on to the bad and finish off with the good ;) ... All in my personal opinion of course.

Okay so firstly, I'm still not sure whether this book is about eating disorders or not. The author suffered with a subclinical eating disorder and describes EDNOS as being in the middle of a continuum; with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating (serious disorders) at one end, and healthy eating at the other. From this we can conclude that the diagnosis of EDNOS is subclinical and not seen as an extreme problem. Before reading the book I did not realise that EDNOS was classed as a subclinical disorder, because in my view; just because someone has eating disordered behaviours which are not 'specified' in the criteria for anorexia or bulimia, it doesn't mean to say that their behaviours aren't as extreme, or life-threatening or not worthy of being classed as an actual disorder. To me, 'Not otherwise specified' doesn't imply 'mild', it merely implies that the DSM isn't advanced enough to label the disorder properly.

So, I think the author's intentions were good; to shed light on EDNOS and how being labelled with this puts you in a rather difficult position; It is as one professor she quoted said 'A wastebasket term' - Dr Harry Quirtsman.

I do not doubt that the author suffered from an eating disorder herself, however I do feel that the book gives people completely the wrong impression about what an eating disorder actually is. In my opinion, 'chronic dieting' is not part of a mental illness. I did work experience a few years ago at a hospital, and at lunch times I ate with the staff who were women aged perhaps between 20 and 40. There they were contantly comparing lunches, telling me they were allways on a diet and quizzing me about my skin and food intake. My mum says it is the same in her work-place. But my mum also says that she sees no parralells between the behaviour of the chronic dieters at work, and my behaviour as someone with a mental illness. I said to her 'maybe you just don't know what's going on behind closed doors?' However I suspect that she is right; An eating disorder is not a diet gone wrong.

'Life inside the "thin" Cage' seems to confirm the stereotype of eating disorders that the media flaunts; that EDs are just vain cultural values magnified; Starving to have sex appeal, to feel wanted by men, to make other women jealous when you enter a room, that 'thin' equals success. I can't speak for everyone and I know some people say their eating disorders are driven by this, but if this is true I feel it is the exception rather than the norm. I think emphasising this encourages people to believe that eating disorders in general are not a proper mental illness, and therefore not worthy of treatment.

That said, the book did make some very true and important points. For example the author acknowledged that the typical approach to treating eating disorders; making food diaries and weight charts, can in fact be detrimental to recovery, depending on the person. The author suggested a variation on intake recording which I hadn't thought of before; Instead of tracking the precise amounts of food ‘...I focused on tracking which food groups I was eating. I found this approach to be much more helpful and less likely to trigger obsessive thinking.'

Something she said which I think is helpful to apply to life in general was The trouble with seeking to impress is that it requires so little of our heart and soul. But to inspire... that must be the greatest of accomplishments, for inspiring others allows us to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.’


  1. "Something she said which I think is helpful to apply to life in general was ‘The trouble with seeking to impress is that it requires so little of our heart and soul. But to inspire... that must be the greatest of accomplishments, for inspiring others allows us to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.’" Wow. I do think that that is a huge part of my problems, is that I seek to impress, I show off what I can do, but I am no inspiration, or I don't aim to be.

  2. Lost Whild Girl - I think that quote in itself is inspiring :) I had never thought of this before but it's true; so many of us seek to impress, but that often leaves others feeling jealous of our achievements and more inadequate themselves (Well I feel jealous when people impress me! ;).) Whereas inspiring instills hope in others and the goodness is more long-lasting and widespread :) Thankyou for commenting xxx

  3. I really need to start reading these books... I'm curious to see how others have coped with ED's.
    The part where he the other said there was like a need to impress, that thin equals success.. I feel like that is so true.. Losing weight to me is such a success..one that no one can take away.
    Thank you for the post!


About Me

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Durham, County Durham, United Kingdom
(November 2010) > I am taking a year (or two) out of university to recover from an eating disorder; originally diagnosed as restricting anorexia 7 years ago, but has more recently morphed into BN non-purgeing type/ BED/ COE/ EDNOS / whatever you want to call it. I thought I would write a blog to give me a kind of project to work on, mainly giving an insight into the Eating Disorders books that I have read and any interesting articles/videos I find. However, there may be some updates on my life and thoughts once in a while. My quest is to understand these disorders, although I know the best I can do is to keep on researching xxx Update (2012): I have now returned to uni.


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