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Addictions and Eating Disorders
How Are They Linked?

A Conversation with Sandy

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Would you happen to have a bibliography or particular articles on the link between eating disorders and addiction/substance abuse?

Hi Sandy,

Thank you very much for asking. Would you believe, in the almost six years which have passed since I first discovered emergence (which is how I refer to what happens to people in the moments in which they heal), you are the first professional to ever ask me a single meaningful question regarding what I know and how it applies to healing.

(Now please hear my saying what follows in a soft loving voice.) To be honest, it's taken me this long to get back to you because the more I thought about what you asked for, the more I became overwhelmed by how much I have discovered about how these two things do *NOT* "link" but rather "overlap" or "coexist". Also, despite all that I have discovered about how these two things coexist, I have yet to get any of it down on paper except for one brief article on how addictions and compulsions relate ( ).

As for links and articles, although there are many good studies which show how these two categories of human behavior often coexist (the authors of these articles would say, are causally "linked"), no one ever addresses the main problem in healing; what the actual wounds themselves are.

What actually gets wounded in a person who becomes addicted? What gets wounded in a person who is bulimic or anorexic? And are these two categories of wounds both the same or similar? And how can you say if there is a link or not without the answers to these three questions?

So, no, other than the short article I referred to a moment ago, the one I wrote about how addictions and compulsions are connected, I have no real articles to refer you to, neither mine nor others. Further, because I DO have the answers to these three questions, and because I have six years of case studies to back these answers up, I am quite certain this link does not even exist.

So what about the articles and books which do assume these two conditions are linked? What do they offer as proof?

What they offer is comprehensive lists of the symptoms present in and around these two painful conditions. Unfortunately, these lists of symptoms, or categories of symptoms such as "depression," are not the wounds themselves. So all they offer the wounded or the healers is the ability to identify conditions in which these symptoms occur. This is not healing.

What these articles also frequently offer is evidence that people who have these conditions have often experienced some painful event or events which precede these symptoms (i.e. rape, being sexually molested as a child, being mugged or beaten). Here, too, though, these painful events are not the wounds themselves either, and the connections these articles suggest between these events and the symptoms which follow are tenuous and presumptive at best.

More unfortunate than all of this, though, is the fact that most professionals assume (and teach others to assume) that these painful events ARE the cause of these symptoms and that these symptoms ARE the wounds. Sadly, almost everyone has been assuming these two ideas for as long as people have suffered.

These assumptions are why healing is such a mysterious path for most people, because without knowing what the actual wounds are, how can you get to where you want to go (healing). In effect, how do you begin a journey if you have not even discovered where to begin this journey other than at some vague sense of where the suffering begins. And what about those wounds wherein the symptoms are hidden as in the wounds which are asymptomatic?

This missing information, what the actual wounds are, is the essential difference between my work and the work of others. It is also the thing many people get angry at me for believing. Thus, while many, many people offer the wounded much love and support, along with very good lists of symptoms and great descriptions of painful life events, none of this information, and love, addresses where to begin healing in a precise and specific way. Why? Because none of these loving efforts offer a single word about what the actual wounds are. In lieu of knowing this starting point, then, people must spend years and years dredging through endless lists of painful stuff hoping to stumble onto the actual wounds.

Since my work focuses on the actual wounds themselves, both by defining what wounds are and how to find them, these long painful processes are significantly shortened. This means those who practice emergence (which at present is all of eight people after six years; Arrrgh) can sit with a person and can literally find the very wounds themselves.

Why tell you all this as a response to what you asked for? Because how can someone know if two classes of wounds are linked if they have never really defined what the wounds actually are. And since all my work centers around how the primary symptom of a wound is shock (detachment from the current life event), and since I have yet to find even a single study on wounds which addresses how much shock the subjects were in at the time when the study was done, I believe most of the links these studies do presume are at best flawed and at worst cause people to suffer needlessly, by offering false hope and by ending in despair when this information fails to help these people heal.

Now, after all this, let me tell you about a forty year old bulimic woman who called me for help a few years ago. As you know, bulimia is normally one of the more difficult of painful situations to heal. Some people also mistakenly lump this condition in with addictions.

At the time this woman called me, she lived more than two hours away. So why did she call me? She was desperate. She had been in and out of hospitals and therapists' offices for some twenty years. Yet despite all this help, much of which was loving, she still suffered just as badly. And since I had mentioned to a friend of hers that I had helped several people who were bulimic, this friend told her about me. So in desperation, she called me, a therapist more with an office more than two hours away.

How long did it take us to heal her wound? If I count the first phone call itself as a session, three sessions.

How is this possible? In a general sense, because I know what a wound is and in a specific sense, because I know twelve ways to find wounds. Here, I used but one of these twelve ways, what I call the twelve "BLock Markers," to lead me to her wound, to where the love in her was "BLocked." More to the point, I simply used her inability to see the beauty in eating.

Clearly, this woman couldn't see the beauty in eating. She literally told me she *hated* eating, especially holiday meals. I then asked her if she had ever *loved* eating. Not surprisingly, she said yes, before she was twenty. I then asked her at what holiday meal did she first hate eating. Immediately, she burst into tears and said, the Thanksgiving when she was twenty. She then went on to tell me that her mother had died suddenly the week before.

Is this discovery what healed her? No. Not at all. This "event" was not the wound itself. So what had actually happened to her and what was the actual wound?

Start with the fact that food, especially good food, is one of the few things which, by its very nature, can bring people out of shock. And not surprisingly, this woman had been in shock from the moment she had learned her mother was dead until some moment during the Thanksgiving meal she ate a week later. What had happened was, at some point during that meal, the act of eating the good tasting food had brought her up out of shock for the first time since her mother had died. And at this point, I'm sure you can guess what happened next. The moment she realized *consciously* that her mother was dead, she ran out of the room and threw up.

Here is what she had been reliving, the painful moment in which she first consciously realized her mother was dead. And she had been reliving this painful moment over and over for twenty years, at every holiday meal.

Can you believe that no one had ever asked this poor woman these few simple questions! Twenty years of treatment and not one person had ever asked her if there was ever a time in her life in which she had loved eating. And because no one had known to ask these few simple questions, this woman had been blaming herself mercilessly for twenty years for her not being able to stop, never realizing that the wound itself had never been addressed.

So what was the actually wound? Was it that her mother had died? No. Not at all. The actual wound was the scene which had imprinted inside this woman in the instant of that realization. This scene, all of which took but an instant to replay, is what she was reliving. And this instant is what had been BLocking her ability to love eating, as it was the only scene she could internally experience whenever she imagined holiday meals.

How can such a brief moment wound a person? It takes only three simple ingredients in this exact order:

First, the person must be, at least for an instant, absolutely entranced by a life event; in other words, the person must become, at least momentarily, hyperaware. This state of being hyperaware is what allows the terrible association to be imprinted into the persons nature.

Third (yes, I have skipped the second ingredient to go to the third), the person must go into a significant degree of shock. This shock is what prevents the person from recognizing the true nature of the injury, during and afterwards; being in shock means they did not consciously experience the event which wounded them, thus they have no access to this information.

Finally, second, the person must abruptly and violently transition from the first state, hyperawareness, to the third and last state, shock, and it is this violent transition from being very conscious (entranced) into unconsciousness (shock) that causes the person to lose their access to the beauty in this event, be it person, place or thing.

This process is very similar to the way a flashbulb first imprints on peoples' retinas and then temporarily blinds them. In fact, even wonder why so many people say they "hate" having their picture taken? Now you know. They were wounded by a flashbulb.

And in the case of this bulimic woman, a very similar event had occurred in that the overwhelming and shockingly sudden transition between being hyperaware that her mother had died (the flash) to being shocked that her mother had died (the blindness) had hypnotically imprinted into her nature the connection between eating holiday meals and her sudden and overwhelming desire to throw up.

Is any of this like what happens to a person who gets alcoholism? Yes. The three ingredients and the order of the wounding event are always the same, no matter what the wound is. But in the case of addictions, because of the nature of psychoactive substances (see my article on addictions and compulsions), these three events occur over and over and over, and wound over and over, whereas with bulimia, the only wounding event is the first event and all the successive events are simply the person reliving the experience of the first wounding event.

Said again, addictions always involve many, many, many wounds, and every use is a possible wounding scene. And since, by their very nature, addictive substances always cause shock, the people who use these substances additively can not see the very moments which are literally killing their love of life. How can they. For the most part, these people experience these events in shock.

And what about anorexia? Well, from the little I have discovered so far, I know that it is significant that most anorexics, my mother included, want very much to gain weight but can't. They would love to gain weight. This means they ARE NOT wounded about their weight. Unfortunately, then, most people focus their healing efforts with anorexics on an area in which the person is not wounded.

On the other hand, most BUT NOT ALL bulimics hate to gain weight. This means they ARE wounded in and around their weight. Unfortunately, most people focus their healing efforts with bulimics in and around artificially getting them to achieve this goal.

Ironically, the dictionary says that the word "bulimia" comes from two Roman words meaning "ox hunger," the hunger of an ox! In other words, it defines bulimia as being enormously hungry! Talk about not seeing the actual wound. And in the case of the bulimic woman I just told you about, neither weight gain nor hunger were where she was wounded. It was her love of eating that had been wounded.

Finally, what about the most prevalent class of wounds in and around eating, the class of wounds which cause people to compulsively monitor their eating and their weight? Well, by the simple few pieces of information I just offered, it can be inferred that almost all people have some form of bulimia, and that only in the more severe cases do people also present with the throwing up and laxatives and such.

In any event, I hope you find these preliminary thoughts useful. Also, please know, Sandy, that I would be glad to come and offer you anything I know which you might find useful in helping people to learn to love themselves more.

God Bless,


Want to know more?

a Quik Summary on compulsions and addictions
a theoretical article regarding addictions and compulsions