- By Dr. Ann Weitzman-Swain
Disordered eating is a pervasive problem for women in our culture. The problem can take several forms including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. These disorders are on the rise and are reaching frightening proportions. For example, it is estimated that one out of every one hundred adolescent women suffer from anorexia. Unfortunately, people struggling with eating disorders are very often reluctant to seek help for a variety of reasons.
If you have had the good fortune to have lived past 50, you would probably be in agreement with Scott Peck, "Life is Difficult." Of course it is. In fact, in some ways the older we get the more complex life can seem. Real difficulties with health, relationships, and finances can make even a well lived life difficult. The longer we live, the more life happens. The longer we live, the more we are challenged to accommodate the problems and difficulties in life. Most of us, however, would say that we find it to be worth it to be alive. How is that?
Binge Eating Disorder
Most people are familiar with the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, however less is known about Binge Eating Disorder. Unfortunately, Binge Eating Disorder, is more prevalent and can be equally devastating. Although the disorder has been a challenge for men and women for many years, the disorder was only recently specifically included in the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals to officially diagnose the problem. Previously, in the best of cases people with the disorder have diagnosed themselves as "compulsive eaters" or "food addicts," seeking help mostly from community support groups. In the worst of cases they have labeled themselves "yo yo dieters," "failed dieters," or worse. Because obesity is sometimes the result, they have been told by physicians to diet, have been put on medical weigh loss programs and often referred for extreme weight loss surgeries. The abloom is that extreme dieting or weight loss surgery does not address the problem of Binge Eating Disorder. If the symptoms of this disorder are present, in fact, these methods make the problem much worse.
Managing Chronic Pain
Acute pain hurts. It is supposed to. The word pain originates from the Greek “poine”, which translates as punishment. Who could disagree that pain seems wholly synonymous with punishment. The comprehensive pain system in the body is called nociception. Nociception integrates the peripheral nervous system, those nerve endings in throughout our body, with the central nervous system, our spinal column and brain. The sensation of acute pain and the tolerance of acute pain varies from individual to individual. The analgesics, medicines designed to manage acute pain are highly effective and readily available. Acute pain, while an unpleasant accompaniment to injury or disease, offers to the clinician a clear target for intervention and relief. Chronic pain, however presents a greater challenge.
One Patient, One at a Time, Right in Front of Me
That simple statement explains both my philosophy of care and how I conduct psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is a one to on relationship to help relieve distress, solve problems and foster growth. The greatest wealth in life is the freedom and vitality of good health. Good health and wellbeing are characterized by vibrancy, energy, positive relationships, a sense of inner happiness and satisfaction. We all easily accept the idea of good health as a medical issue. Most of us would not hesitate to have a chronic illness evaluated and treated, to attend to an accidental injury or to consult our medical doctors about preventative measures that help prevent the onset of illness. But do we appreciate the essential role of our psychological health?
Eating Disorders: Is There a Silver Lining?
Despite Years of education and prevention efforts, eating disorders continue to be highly prevalent in our community and within our culture. Greater numbers of young girls are presenting for treatment; a rising number of males are seeking treatment, and most recently there has been a noticeable increase in so called empty nesters, women in their forties and fifties who are coming forward and reporting they're suffering for the first time. While greater education and awareness of symptoms is likely to account for some of the increase in eating disorders, much of the increase is an indication that overall, eating disorders are on the rise and are affecting a wide segment of the population. The fact that more is known regarding eating disorders and the treatment of eating disorders is good news - some of the stigma associated with the disorders has lessened. Successful treatments are available. Families can recover from the deep and disorganizing shame that often accompanies an eating disorder. However, treatment is challenging.
What would you expect to hear if you asked someone if they have ever been hypnotized? You might be surprised by the variety of response. Most people have seen stage hypnotists where selected audience members act out the direct suggestions of the entertainer. Horror movies portray hypnotized people behaving as zombies or carrying out assassinations after a cue activated a deeply planted hypnotic suggestion. Many people have tried group hypnotic sessions to quit smoking or to rid themselves of undesirable personal habits. And there are some who fear hypnosis is dangerous, a way for evil spirits or devilitry to emerge. Yet, have you ever driven past the exit you take every day on a common commute without even realizing you had done so? Have you had an experience where you have been so absorbed in some activity that you were performing a task almost automatically, without apparent thought, easily and with great focus? If so, then you have been in a state that is hypnotic. So then - what is hypnosis?