Dr. Ross describes why some individuals develop eating disorders.
I think it’s difficult to understand because they are so serious and there’s so much evidence to support a biological basis, but my work in treating eating disorder patients as well as in treating people with substance use disorders like alcohol and drug addiction has shown me that they are really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The tip of the iceberg are the behaviors that we all see and we are concerned about, but underneath those behaviors is something that drives them, and the first thing is their emotions.
So, the emotional soup that many of our, many friends and family members who suffer with these problems, they live from that place, and that drives their behaviors, and then beneath that is the body’s sensations that are associated with those emotions. You know, when you are angry, well, how does your body feel? And our bodies are the reservoir of all of the wisdom that we need to make the decisions we need to make about behaviors.
So when we are disconnected from the body, we lose out on a lot of that information. And beneath that, the body sensation areas are beliefs and our beliefs--many times beliefs that we formed in childhood that may now stand in the way--they may have served us well in childhood, but now they may be standing in the way of us getting what we need to get out of life, and so identifying those beliefs and then finally hooking back into life.
For each of us, whether you have an eating disorder or you have cancer or you have some other debilitating illness, you have to have something that gets you up in the morning and makes you willing to do whatever it takes, and that’s what I call the “hook back into life.”
So, if you haven’t found that hook and you keep relapsing and struggling and relapsing, then probably there is something that stands in the way of you getting hooked back into life, and that’s where your therapy should be directed, not just at the behaviors.
About Dr. Ross, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Carolyn Ross, M.D., M.P.H., completed her undergraduate degree in Modern Foreign Languages at Purdue University and worked as a full-time mother of her two older sons before returning to school to complete her pre-med requirements. She then went to the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Ross’s practice experience after medical school helped fuel her interest in understanding what makes people heal as she saw that most of her patients’ medical problems were related to lifestyle habits and the stresses of modern living. In searching for a better way to address these issues, Dr. Ross began to explore complementary and alternative therapies and the use of herbs and supplements for her patients. She then completed a residency in Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University and then set up practice in San Diego, California where she eventually opened three women’s centers where she practiced primary care and office gynecology.
Visit Dr. Ross at her website