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

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Is the negative definition of pro-ana indirectly adaptive?

Here are some of my ramblings inspired by the ramblings of Ednose :P (on one of the support sites I use).

Pro-ana is a very complicated concept. (I am going to receive a beating from the eating disorder for saying the following, but it needs to be said).

An eating disorder is so clever that in order to escape in any way, we need to be one step ahead and trick the tricker. You can't fight it head on; if I go to therapy it realises exactly what's going on and fights back harder. You need to trick it into a false sense of security then sneak up behind its back. What better way to do so than to type 'pro-ana' into the internet, meaning 'pro-destruction'. This is what I did to find PT. The ED thought it was great, at first. The outside package of 'PRETTY THIN - pictures of skinny girls, skeletons, silly teenage girls saying 'keep strong, don't eat'' - this package that society falls for (therefore labelling the site as horrific) the eating disorder also fell for, as ED loves horrific. It settled itself in, but before long it started to get a bit concerned at how much I was talking on there and giving away - how honest I was being about my illness for the first time in my life, because noone was judging me any more - people understood. The ED started to realise that something was very wrong and that this wasn't a pro-destruction site at all - those 'ana is a goddess' members floating around on the surface were all a trap to trick the ED into letting me join the site. The eating disorder was enraged to find that the members who stuck around long-term were there to help ME, not it. But it was too late to go back, because all those emails I received and conversations I had, containing long and carefully thought out messages of genuine support, from strangers who did not need to give me the time of day, but did; made me trust the community just as much as I trusted the eating disorder. I had never trusted anyone as much as the ED before I typed in 'pro ana'. I know that to conquer the ED I need to trust something more than it, ideally put all my trust into my true self. But for now trust in others who sincerely understand has brought me a long way in coming to terms with who I am, what my disorder is and how I can continue to make steps to live my life the best way I can despite it. 

I maintain that we were right to keep the term 'pro ana' in our site address, because I suspect I'm not the only one who was only permitted to join a support site because the words pro-ana pretended to welcome my eating disorder and destructive nature. It didn't realise that there is a difference between 'welcome' and 'acceptance'. 

It is controversial, but perhaps the magic of that term is reliant on the negative definition of the term, rather than the positive one? Maybe it would actually be a big mistake to change the definition into completely positive, because then... would a mind so severely chained down by the ED mindset really be able to search for support to help themselves, rather than entering support through the back-door illusion of Ed's best friend 'Pro-kill ourselves -ana'? 

Pro-ana appears to provide a way of denying to ourselves that we are seeking help > in denying it to ourselves we are preventing the ED from catching on, in order to prevent the ED digging its heels in and screaming until we reject the support. Secretly we are calmly receiving support behind its back x


  1. Wow, this is an amazing post. I didn't find PT the same way you did, but my ED full well knew that it wanted to get worse and worse. On PT I sought out the fasting groups, the 'what i ate', and hope that I ate as small a selection of foods and small enough calories to feel okay, but it was never enough. PT is not for me, because of the possibility of triggering posts, the obsession about weight and food, and the oodles of people looking to stifle their conscience and allow the mob of people deep in their ED's to suck them down deeper. But for someone already at their bottom point and already participating in so many different disorders it's amazing. After I discovered PT, my anorexia morphed into bulimia and my health suffered. After leaving PT for a few other sites where NO pro-ana activity is allowed, I am back to a less harmful ED where I try and 'symptom manage'. I'm not recovered yet, but I'm getting so much into the psychological causes of my ED behaviours than I was on PT. Forgive me if this offends, but in my view PT as a whole tends to follow a more shallow approach (i.e.: eat more, eat less, follow this diet, how much did you eat, what exercises can I do to tone 'x', etc" than is healthy for me. I listen to a lot of theraputic ED recovery podcasts, and I read ED nonfiction books to try and better understand WHY I'm so disordered and depressed. For me it's impossible to focus on willpower and physical aspects, because they are a symptom of a bigger problem - an emotional and mental one. Again, I hope nothing I said offended. PT did help me greatly in the beginning as it helped me feel less hopeless and suicidal, but I've moved past that stage for now. I still pop in occasionally to see how my friends are, but I know better than to let myself be sucked into being too active because I know my ED is too vulnerable. :) Thanks for the post, it made me think!

  2. Thankyou so much for your comment! Don't worry you have not offended at all, you have made me think about a few things regarding this post that I probably should clarify: I have perhaps given the impression that I think PT is a good, helpful site, full stop. However like you, I have found other sites that have helped me manage and deal with my disorder more healthily than I could on PT, and I have not used PT for a long time now. I think you are right in saying that it does tend to follow a more shallow approach. To be honest, I don't think I deliberately tried to find anywhere healthier, I just got bored of the tedious repetition that lacked depth. There were the odd few topics where more insightful members looked deeper into things and brought up honest, useful debates. Those topics are what I liked about that site and where I found my friends I still keep in contact with from there. Also, the fact that people would jump to support anyone who was struggling, was amazing. However I then realised that I could find that on other sites without all the irritating, never-ending 'diet' threads that crowded PT. Admittedly I used to use them myself, but now I realise they were rather pointless. Maybe I thought that if I could pretend my ED was a diet, and followed rules, then I could control it. But of course, an ED isn't a diet, and 'it' controls you, or tries its damned hardest to.

    So yes, PT can be destructive. However in a way I think many can need the freedom there is on PT to come to their own conclusion, in their own time, that they want to get out. Although it has many flaws, I think it provides a stepping stone to healthier sites, which many sufferers would never have contemplated joining to help themselves, had it not been for PT. I suppose many see PT as either good or bad, but in reality, it is both.

    I am very glad to hear that despite your anorexia morphing into bulimia, you still got back up and found other sites that are proactive in helping you to deal with the core of your disorder and why it is there. I read non-fiction ED books for the very same reason :) Some people tell me that I shouldn't read these books, because everyone is different and they are not about me. But I think they are helpful for me to learn from the differences as well as the similarities with my own experience, and the authors looking at things in a way I hadn't thought to look at them. It helps me understand others and myself, better. Basically, they do make me think, and so has your comment. So thankyou too :) x


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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