Eating disorders are coping mechanisms.
When one focuses on food, weight, and his or her body image, he or she is avoiding the emotions that underlie the disorder.
A girl's parents get a divorce and she uses self-starvation to deal with her feelings of guilt, hurt, and sadness.
A boy is bullied at school and he uses binge eating in order to stuff his feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and shame.
Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from eating disorders aren't even aware of why they are using them as coping mechanisms. The goal of therapy is to uncover the underlying issues, to raise self-esteem, and to learn how to cope with feelings healthily.
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