A NEW NAMING CONTEST FROM GAINING:
HELP GIVE EATING DISORDERS A NEW NAME
January 1, 1970Okay, Friends-
We all now know that eating disorders are biologically based conditions. We know that anorexia nervosa has a higher mortality rate than alcoholism or schizophrenia, but that the cause of death is not always directly related to food intake or starvation. We know that DNA determines who is likely to develop an eating disorder and who is not. We know that eating disorders serve as distress signals – symptoms – of much deeper and more complex syndromes of personality, anxiety, and behavior.
We ALSO know that these conditions can be re-directed toward health instead of disease. Here is a note I just received from Mark Warren, MD, PhD -- a brilliant doctor, medical director of the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders, and dear friend who has a history of anorexia himself:
“Eating disorders never go away. The behaviors get better, the thoughts get less, body image improves, happiness comes. But what really happens is the ED goes from being a driver of pain to a driver of happiness and success and friendship and intimacy. It will often stay an organizing principle, but the organization becomes one of health, not disease. And it can lead to a very wonderful life. After all, I found love, made wonderful friends, have a career I treasure, work with amazing people, feel purpose and delight.”
Why are eating disorders so radically misunderstood? Why does the media trivialize and marginalize an issue that affects more than 10 million people? How can men and women with body issues themselves make jokes about “getting just a little anorexic”?
I suggest that the term “eating disorder” is largely to blame, as it implies the problem begins and ends with food.
We all know this could not be farther from the truth.
Here, then, is my challenge to you:
Let’s give “eating disorders” a new NAME!
I invite you to send me your ideas for a term that will reposition the syndromes of bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder in the public consciousness -- a term that will command the attention, respect, and concern these complex conditions deserve.
Although the specific eating disorders are all very different, the central labeling problem is that they are lumped together under the word “eating.” This is primarily what I’d like to change.
But I’m also not keen on the word “disorder.” Given the complex and enduring nature of these realities, I prefer “condition” or “syndrome,” but let’s hear all ideas, both serious and attention-grabbing.
With your permission, I will publicize the most provocative and/or on-the-money ideas in future blogs and op-eds. If we come up with a legitimate contender, I will propose it to my colleagues at the Academy for Eating Disorders for “official” consideration.
We have the power to generate a sea change in public awareness!
Please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
If there’s an interesting story behind your proposal, tell me about that, too.
And let me know if you are willing to be publicly credited with the idea.
I will announce the top 5 entries during Eating Disorders Awareness Week at the end of February. Those 5 winners will receive a signed hardcover copy of Gaining.
Thank you so much for your thought, your creativity, and your healthy and power-full inspiration!