The illness experience: eating disorders from the patient’s perspective
This chapter explores the illness experience as revealed to us by the sufferers themselves. When the primacy of the patient is recognized in healthcare, a more collaborative approach to treatment is encouraged. Common misconceptions expressed by clinicians and family/friends alike are the notions that the patient is demonstrating complacency with the disorder or that she is defending her self-starvation or binge/purge behavior as a deliberate attack on them. Many patients who have suffered from anorexia nervosa are able to articulate their own strategies for maintaining this euphoric state. Exploration of a variety of feeling states helps to describe the emotional world of those who are struggling with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A number of these feeling states are explored, including: initial denials of pain and suffering and accompanying feelings of euphoria, shame and feelings of inferiority, fear and distrust, depression and longing, anger and grief.