The Language of Symptoms

by MB


"When we think of recovery, it can be easy to envision the positive—the possibilities, the health, the connection to one’s self and to others. But when a symptom as powerful as not eating, for example, is forgone, in a sense, the patient is losing a language, which is to say she’ll be losing a treasured part of herself. She knows herself through this language. She understands the world through this language. It would be quite strange if she were not ambivalent about giving this up.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a long and involved process and it is nothing new to say that grief is a part of this process. What I’ve considered here is the grief that may need to be processed around the loss of the language of the symptom and what that means for the patient’s commitment to therapy and to recovery. Perhaps if this loss of language, and all that goes with it, is understood, named, and worked through, the patient might be more able to look for other, more adaptive ways, of communicating her complexities to herself and to the world."

Tina Villalobos, McCallum Place Blog