noun ( pl. -eries)
1 a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength
2 the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
In the field of psychology, the term “recovery” originates in the field of drug and alcohol (addiction) treatment and more specifically is tied to the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step Program. Those who follow AA principles will tell you that they will, for the rest of their lives be recovering from their addiction. It is not possible to be addicted to food and therefore, at least from our standpoint at EDCMT, we do not approach treatment from an addictions model of treatment. The term “recovery” takes on a different emphasis when it comes to treating eating problems and the body-image concerns that invariably come along with it. In this sense, what is being recovered in the process of treatment, is a sense of self; subjectivity based on becoming intimate with who you are, and what your unique experience is, and has been that created your symptoms.
Is it possible to recover from an eating disorder?
If we approach the eating disorder (whether you are the sufferer, a parent, or the person involved in treating it) as any other psychological symptom, we can make space for who that person is, why the symptom has come to be, where the person is in their life, and how that symptom functions in their life. The eating disorder seems to have its roots in a struggle for autonomy and identity. Becoming an adult and finding a way to express oneself in a culture filled with pressure to look or be a certain way, the symptoms of eating disorders are a form of compromise that contribute to a sense of identity, control, and uniqueness. Treatment, intensively undertaken, hosts a process where a person can begin to plumb the depths into the places in themselves that were shut down or silences; where their sense of self and place of belonging became confused and had to find ways to exist in albeit self-destructive forms. Recovering the self is possible and for each person is a completely different.