After watching the pre-screening of the HBO documentary Thin directed by Lauren Greenfield, I feel it is important to share my thoughts regarding this documentary. My comments are regarding the content of the film, not necessarily about Renfrew Center.
After watching the pre-screening I felt that that many viewers will have a sense of hopelessness regarding the ability to have victory over an eating disorder. The film gave the sense that people do not recover from an eating disorder. Before I cover that subject I would like to share some other observations.
The film stated that an eating disorder is a mental illness. They also emphasized that individuals with an eating disorder can be very narcistic. This can certainly be true but the film did not explore why this may be true for those who have an eating disorder. An eating disorder is more than a mental illness. There are physiological symptoms that come with an eating disorder. Most who have an eating disorder have nutritional deficiencies and their brains are ‘starved’. So many who have eating disorders are not thinking correctly and can appear to be very narcistic.
It appears that the treatment center shown in the film does not have extensive biochemical testing (this is much more than just ‘blood work’) to determine what nutrients are missing. It appears they have some physicians but they do not have naturopaths, wellness physicians, or others to help with the major problem of nutrient deficiency. I have found that when this factor is explored and resolved, many of those who suffer from an eating disorder get much better and are able to think much clearer, have less cravings, and much more likely to experience recovery.
Another very important component that appears to be lacking is the role of faith- a reason for living, purpose. Without the component of faith it makes sense that there would be a feeling of hopelessness and less of a chance of recovery. As an eating disorder counselor I believe one of my roles is to instill hope in individuals to let them know that their life can be different. Because they are overwhelmed with their food addiction, they may not have the ability to believe things can be different. Instead of putting shame, guilt, condemnation on a person seeking help, we do all we can in treatment to instill confidence.
It also appeared from the film that the relational area of a client’s life was not being dealt with at the clinic. There can be many relational issues in a person’s life that can trigger unhealthy eating habits. So this is an area that must be explored if a person is going to have victory over an eating disorder.
The film did not explore the causes and reasons for an eating disorder. Instead of just showing the negative aspects of this illness, we wish they would have discussed what can be instrumental in causing an easting disorder so viewers could be aware of issues in their own life that may need to be dealt with so that they themselves do not look to food addictions as a solution to their problems.
As an eating disorder specialist for over 22 years I have seen many individuals overcome an eating disorder. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it can be a tough journey to experience victory over an eating disorder. But it can and does happen. However, for it to occur, the treatment must have a whole-person approach. In other words dealing with more than trying to change behavior. We want to help bring healthy change in every area of a person’s life: Emotional, Physical, Nutritional, Spiritual, Relational, and Intellectual.
We do believe the film is helpful in showing how destructive an eating disorder can be and hopefully it will help some individuals to decide to not take this destructive path. However, for those who may be caught up in an eating disorder we want you to know-There is Hope! You can experience recovery as you receive treatment for the whole-person.
You can read my blog that has more comments by myself and others about this documentary:
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