Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who Will I Be Without 'The Negative Mind?'

Oftentimes I hear said, “But if I give up anorexia, who will I be? I won’t know myself, I won’t know HOW to be.”

When emotional development is arrested, an individual has little direction in that area. The ‘self’ is lost. Therefore, during this time, it is difficult and almost impossible to make positive choices about anything. Most things become a panic of indecision. The sufferer feels she can never do anything right, and everybody else’s opinions are more valid. The negative way she feels about herself is subjectively encouraged and, over time, compounded, so that ‘anorexia’, despite its detrimental consequences, becomes an interim identity.

“I haven’t got rid of my demons yet...but its kind of feels like half of me doesn’t want to...I feel protected as this anorexic woman now, it feels like its me and its my illness/excuse/protector, it hides everything that’s wrong with me. I just don’t know where to go and what to do now...”

She has been like this for ten years.

When I read these words and hear these questions, I am reminded of when I talked to battered women in a shelter, ‘a safe house’, who for a long time kept going back to their abusive situations because it was ‘the known’. The difference between this and ‘Confirmed Negativity Condition’ is only, that, their abusers are external rather than internal. Either way, with compassion, consistency, love, trust, and presenting possibility, the victims can be gently persuaded to see a more positive side for their future—and, to then, begin to work to repair the damage that has been done.

Most people are afraid of change—‘the unknown factor’. Despite the repercussions of remaining static, they cling to familiarity, even at the risk of their lives, and certainly, with the possibility or probability of living unnecessarily, painfully compromised existences.

With CNC, the ‘Negative Mind’ attempts to convince the sufferer that it is its friend, its protector. “In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims” ( With CNC, and hence, its manifestations, e.g. eating disorders, one part of the mind, the then diminished, logical part, watches helplessly as the emotional mind is taken hostage.

Here are quotes from a poem written by one of my past patients (from my first book).

I hear cries from the shrinking self:

“No one can see me or

Watch me watching myself walking

Into walls.”

I hear the despair:

“Scuffed faces stained with defeat observe

The still existence of themselves and others.”

I love you all so much. Take care of yourself in a positive way each day.


Tube Girl said...

This was one of my biggest fears when I first started on my journey to getting better. I kept thinking that if someone took Anorexia away from me, nothing would be left, because Anorexia was all that I was. I was so scared that I kept fighting with all my strenght against all the caring people who tried to help me. What I didn't know was, that as Anorexia started to get smaller and smaller, "I" started to develop and more and more of the real me came forward. By the time I was ready to let go of Anorexia there was so much of the real me, more than I could ever have imagined!

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Hi sunshine:
Bravo for you! Thank you so much for your comments and always, for your courage and vision.
You are much loved.

Anonymous said...

just want to share some hope and thank Peggy for being an earth angel. i imagined this to be something she might say...

Begin Again

there is no doubt that we all travel a path of darkness at times.
i know the rocky points can be staggering to our minds.

reaching out to others can seem a thorny branch,
after hands full of thorns will you give love another chance?

it's easy to lie down and stop when the road is so rough hewn.
but up ahead what isn't seen may be gold all over strewn.

treasures you've created by being who you are.
never blown from reach, perhaps even a childhood wishing star.

too simple, too unreal, too much to consider, no more risks?
if you overthink the love ahead, you may overlook the gift.

it may have been a long time since you've seen the road all clear.
i promise to hold your hand as you move ahead my dear.

you'll never be alone, you can snuggle close to me.
feel my steady heart, lean on my belief.

soon the path will be behind, the memory in the wind.
you may never forget that rough road, yet standing tall you can begin again.

love you all,
a fellow journeyer

Carla said...

Your paragraph about arrested emotional development caught my attention and spoke volumes. I believe these words describe how my daughter Danielle feels--these are her fears. She lives this day after day and has done so for over 15 years now. She has just been discharged from her 20th hospitalization. The challenge for us now is getting her into a treatment program that understands this disease and its complexities. A place that will love her into recovery. Insurance companies refuse to give her that opportunity and we are in the middle of a fight with them. How exhausting it is. Thank you for listening.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Dear Fellow Journeyer,

You take my breath away. So therefore, all I can think to say, is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Peggy Claude-Pierre said...

Carla, you poor dear. Certainly, we have heard this story so many times. What insurance companies (and most hospitals) do not seem to understand is that twenty years of hospitalizations takes far more funding than would a year and a half of proper, consistent treatment.

Our written input can serve to have you know that we understand what Danielle is going through--however, it saddens me that I cannot offer you more substantial help at this time. We will have a second book coming out within the next few months--and other services by the end of the year. In the interim, know that you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Dear Peggy,

Your kindness is unbounded, you have understood completely my daughter and although professionals have tried to understand only you have understood the depths of what my daughter is suffering and given me the confidence to love her unconditionally and not discipline her as I have often been advised by caring but misguided professionals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, we are on track and my daughter is getting better.