Eating disorder: 3 strategies to deal with anorexia

Our specialists bring us closer to the possible treatments for this eating disorder. A disorder whose cure always requires good psychological support and a lot of empathy with the therapist.



From Gestalt therapy, one of the issues that we prioritize when dealing with problems related to food, such as anorexia, is to ensure that the patient learns to properly handle the meaning or interpretation that they make of their experience.

In other words, the patient learns to recognize his sensations, emotions, feelings and affections in such a way that he does not confuse (“merge with”) psychological suffering with physiological problems.

I will explain it in a closer way. We have all gone through life situations in which we have experienced certain psychological suffering (anxiety before an important exam, for example) and we have given it a physiological solution (go to the fridge and eat a piece of chocolate) instead of a solution psychological (trying to relax).

Well, people who suffer from anorexia suffer a high level of psychological suffering, derived from the conflictive dynamics they experience, which they do not address at that level of psychological reality but rather from the physiological field, food.

Thus, the psycho-affective factors involved in the problem – the anguish before entering adulthood and the independence it entails with respect to their parents, the obsessive and distorted concern of their image, their high levels of perfectionism and demand, the marked rigidity and obstinacy of character as the young woman becomes thinner and weaker from lack of intake, they tend to remain hidden in the background, in the background. And the serious effects that his behavior has on his health constitute the visible figure of his problem.

Thus, the young woman and the family (and sometimes the professionals) tend to enter into a somewhat obsessive dynamic in which everything revolves around the problem of food.

Gestalt therapy helps the patient and the family to re-signify the conflictive experience they are going through, so that problems on the psychological level (suffering) are not confused with those on the physiological level (lack of appetite).



Behind anorexia hides a generalized denunciation of the contradictions in the world that surrounds it.

  • The company, its voracity criticizes consumerist.
  • From parents, their inconsistency in attending only to their own needs or to their idea of ​​what a child is.
  • From the school, its claim to train wise and critical people when they are only disciplinary centers.
  • The list of failures of the anorexic patient could be very long. A list that hides his complaint: nobody takes into account his subjectivity, what he feels. And the defense of this rejected subjectivity is the purpose of anorexic patients.
  • The clearest example of this is the absolute conviction that the body that they see fat in the mirror is the one they have, although no one else sees it that way.
  • Digged in as she is in that almost infallible field of eating-not-eating, of the fat-thin, where she controls, from psychoanalysis we try to get the patient to expand her agenda.
  • Taking advantage of her exacerbated rationalism, it will be suggested to her that the contradictions that she sees are not such but are the result of her simple and reduced vision: “either black or white or rain or shine”. They are contrary things but not necessarily contradictory , since they can occur at the same time. Isn”t that exactly what you do when you eat and are thinking about throwing up?
  • She herself has contrary desires, so who does not respect her feelings? It is their own way of judging and judging themselves that does not respect them. Drilling through that restrictive thought will undo the confusion between subjectivity and singularity.
  • Rather, psychoanalysis would try to make the relationship between inside and outside more flexible so that each one feels included without, for this reason, losing their personality. To be singular is to insert something new, different – a lifestyle or a peculiar way of seeing things – and not to be contrary by system.



The body therapy includes anorexia as a problem whose base is in what we might call “the culture of thinness” that is immersed in Western society and is becoming a medical problem.

This cult of thinness taken to the extreme causes the person to end up distorting the perception of their own image in the mirror. For this to happen, contact with a whole series of internal perceptions and sensations, both physically and emotionally, has previously been lost.

It is in his recovery that the therapeutic work from the body can help.

Often, people with anorexia use physical exercise excessively as a form of weight loss. This taste for physical activity, properly channeled, can become a factor that works in your favor.

One of the most interesting proposals of body work, as an accompaniment to an anorexia treatment, is expressive movement. This type of movement is of gentle graduation, allowing the awareness and sensitization of the whole body, as well as the unblocking of repressed emotional aspects, mainly the rejection of oneself.

With work, the person rebuilds a healthier and more realistic perception of their own body image, not only the external one, the one they see in the mirror, but the internal one, which is built from sensations and emotions, and which is the basis of self-esteem.

In these movement groups, the anorexic person gradually goes from wanting to be “physically perfect and controlled” to the desire to develop an expressive body that transmits and expresses emotions. They manage to develop a taste for the plasticity of the body in the face of the demand for perfection and excessive self-control, which will gradually disappear.

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