Saturday, 24 April 2010


Over at watrd there's a discussion of the perceptions surrounding the phenomenon of pro ana - anorexia as a lifestyle.

These anorexics are taken over by their condition, true. You can see similar with people who have mental health conditions and those addicted to drugs.

But wait, if it's coming from inside you, and feels like the centre of your being, you may well over-identify with it. Don't we all feel sometimes what we feel is us, because it comes so naturally bubbling from inside us? It's all we can feel. It's what we perceived through.

Part of the socialization process is learning which ones our societies and communities find to be wrong.

They are not always correct and neither are we about what we feel is us and what is passing through us.

The thing with mental health conditions and various addictions habits even, is that they can take you over, slowly but surely, if not at times in a flash.

In doing so, they can begin to snuff the essence of you out.

For these reasons, though outrageous, it's not surprising that some people have labelled fat acceptance to be out of the same mould as pro-ana.

This is of course wrong, as fatness is not in itself lifestyle, any more than slimness. Though it can become one, the same as the desire to acquire thinness can become so. 

You maybe perceiving the symmetry. Fatness as a lifestyle aim thinness as a lifestyle aim.

Funny how the obesity crisis underpinnings, are in keeping with the underlying logic of pro-ana a lifestyle around weight loss and its maintainence.

Not to say that the favoured route to thinness for fat people is the beginnings of anorexia, presented as a way of life. The only thing preventing this from progressing into anorexia is what stops dieting from working in general, the actions of the body's in built defences against famine, real or self imposed.

And like anorexics to some degree, the most important thing is the agenda of those trying to 'save' anorexics. Their needs and visions dominate our ideas on PWA though much less than fat people. A lot of fat people, mainly those with eating disorders feel that those with the condition get a lot of attention and sympathy, that they would wish for.

What that urge fails to recognise is anorexia is not becoming less prevalent, nor does it seem easier to treat. Those envious of the "attention" anorexics get should try to remember sometimes that attention can be that of acute necessity. And therefore very distressing.

Thank you're lucky stars if you don't need it.

I don't envy someone stuck in or toying with pro ana- they are at a stage where they may well feel utterly trapped, unable to envisage being free. Having to negotiate the panic, anger and distress of those around them. Make no mistake, whatever the burden felt by those around, those with the condition, have to manage you and your feelings sometimes as much as the reverse.

I don't claim to have any answers to pro ana. I've often speculated that with this, as in the case of alcoholism and drug addiction plus some other compulsive habits, the answer is less in fighting the condition head on, than it is to revive the sense of self. So that it instinctively retakes its space pushing the parasitic condition out.

I also wonder if learning to help people reduce the stressful feelings they have towards the central issue of concern, to the absolute minimum possible, would help. Feeling more relaxed about the problem whilst still recognising it as a problem, might be worth considering in at least selected cases.

At the moment, that seems to go against the grain which is focuses on panic and sense of emergency. Maybe that does work well for some, but I'm sure it doesn't work at all for others and the opposite might for at least some.

Without you, your condition is nothing, without the condition, you are yourself. It lives only through you.

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