You want to know what I really think? I think anger isn’t used enough in eating disorders treatment. Not to say there isn’t plenty of anger in the room, mind you. My patients are angry at me, their family, the world, the future, their body, the dietitian, etc. Oh, they are angry. But then they hear from so many people to stop being so angry! I say let the anger flow, but channel it.
I use the work of Thom Rutledge who along with Jenni Schaefer popularized the IntraPersonal therapy tool of “ED.” In this model, ED is the eating disorder voice patients hear in their head telling them how to behave, think, and trust. He is “the master manipulator” that clients of every form of the disorder can identify. They think ED is actually their voice though. They’re wrong in my view.
ED says things to them that they would never say to others. When my clients can identify a loved one they really and truly care about, I ask them would they ever say the same shame-inducing thoughts to that person. “Never!” they say. Right there, they can identify what they would say instead. So if that voice is not you, then it’s the enemy. It’s an abuser. It’s a rat-fink, no-good, piece-of-trash voice that needs to be kicked to the curb.
It’s here that I want them to direct their anger. If they can identify when ED is telling them to do unhealthy things, they can eventually build up that sense of righteous anger and indignation and tell that lousy jerk exactly where to stick it. Anger is fuel. Anger is motivation. Anger creates change. Don’t ask your loved one or yourself to stop being angry. Just make sure the anger is directed where it needs to be.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.