An eating disorder is a complex chronic neurobiological condition where full and permanent remission
An eating disorder is not cured by reaching
Today my feed is filled with battle words+war cries: conquer, overcome, beat. Offering alternatives: respite, enough, try, self-compassion.
The Eating Disorder Institute is a space of applied science—the research is synthesized and evaluated with complete transparency so that you can make some decisions for yourself. The Eating Disorder Institute is an utterly independent organization with no sponsorship, funding or financial conflicts-of-interest.
The Homeodynamic Recovery Method is the application of the science, research and analysis of the best of what we know both empirically and within the peer-reviewed published research of how an adult might use a treatment approach that has a reasonable chance of generating remission. It is possible to use the information on this site for free; review its relevance to you with your appropriate treatment team; and achieve complete and permanent remission from an active eating disorder.
The only evidence-based treatment protocol available to those with eating disorders today is Family-Based Treatment (sometimes referred to as Maudsley Family-Based Treatment, FBT). And while some effort has been applied recently to expand the use of FBT to the adult space, with programs found at the University of California San Diego Eating Disorders Center as well as The New Maudsley Approach and the Maudsley Model of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults, these are intensive programs designed to support those at “the tip of the iceberg” of eating disorders—those who are dealing with a level of severity wherein either meeting or sustaining markers of adult independence and resilience are not happening as a direct result of the severity of the condition. But the vast majority of those with eating disorders sit “below the waterline.” While able to meet and sustain markers of adult independence and resilience, they are experiencing progressive deterioration in quality of life and health. These are the individuals for whom the Homeodynamic Recovery Method was developed.
Evidence-based treatment means something very specific and the term is so misused in mental health treatment spaces today as to end up as more of an expression of “assurance-theater” than a reflection of scientific rigor and protection for the patient.
Evidence-based treatment or medicine refers to a process whereby there has been systematic review and meta-analytic assessment of the body of peer-reviewed published (and ideally unpublished) scientific literature determining whether the treatment in question actually provides tangible beneficial outcomes in a dependable and repeatable fashion for most patients. Even with a valid “evidence-based treatment” label, this can often refer to measuring a new treatment approach against a prior treatment approach, often classified as “treatment-as-usual” (TAU).
However, if our TAU is decidedly wrong-headed, then the fact that a new treatment generates better outcomes when compared to TAU is somewhat misleading if the original TAU was so disastrous as to be a poor comparator in the first place.
Here at the Eating Disorder Institute, we believe that patients are capable of becoming the experts on the condition they must navigate. In fact, it is our mission to make the patient the expert in the room. The treatment analysis you’ll find across this site will allow for you to make decisions that will support your journey towards remission.
What is full remission from an eating disorder? There’s an entire post on the topic Remission Accomplished: What Does It Signify?
Some people take exception to the idea that you cannot recover from an eating disorder. However, this is an issue of semantics and medical terminology. It doesn’t really matter how you prefer to identify the state of the condition in your existence as someone who has navigated an eating disorder in your life.
Recovery is a term set aside for infection. If I have recovered from pneumonia, then having another bout of pneumonia at some point in my future is a new illness and not a relapse or flare of the previous bout of pneumonia. However, if I have systemic erythematosus lupus (lupus) and it goes away, then should I have another bout of lupus in my future, it is a flare or relapse of the prior condition and not a new illness.
Eating disorders work like all other chronic conditions and do not appear to have any infectious agents associated with their presence (as far as we know as of today).
That is why we refer to the absence of the condition as remission and not “cured” or “recovered.” It is possible to remain in remission permanently. However, should the condition reappear, it is a relapse or flare of the original condition. And very similarly to other physical chronic conditions, the symptoms might be quite distinct from one flare to the next, but it’s the same underlying condition throughout.
Remission from an eating disorder is a practice. And as with all other practice behaviors we might adopt in our lives, it gets easier to maintain the practice the more you reinforce its presence in your life.
It’s not possible to return to a life before the eating disorder was activated and that can take some adjustment. Yet there are many protective and even beneficial elements that having a remission practice will bring to you, to the point that you might even feel sorry for those around you who blindly accept fattism and healthism in our society. Remission can end up being an enlightening and enriching space in which you can live out your hopefully long and fulfilling life.