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My Blog

I maintain a blog that examines the role relationships play in eating disorders. I believe in Attachment Theory, that the emotional support, empathy, and acceptance a person receives in childhood enables self-worth throughout life. Without healthy attachments, self-esteem is diminished; food is a replacement for relationships an individual craves. This is a common thread I have seen in many eating disorders; however, causes of eating disorders are complex and are as unique as the individual who develops one. Understanding both psychological & relational aspects is essential in choosing treatment and in establishing an infrastructure for long-term recovery.

Psychology Today Blog - When Food is Family

You can view my blog posts for Psychology Today my clicking the button above, or you can scroll down to view my blog posts on this website.

How Family Becomes Food

"Eating Disorders take prisoners (temporarily), but blaming never helps." Why Eating Disorders are a Family Affair Most people who know about eating disorders or are familiar with someone who has one understand that there are many reasons that contribute to the development of an eating disorder. … [Read more...]

Food is Family

You don’t have to be an eating disorder specialist to understand the significance of food. Food plays a role in every physical, recreational and relational arena in life. Food is a representation of a family’s love and often becomes the battleground when a member develops an eating disorder. A … [Read more...]

Gratitude: What I Have Learned From My Patients

Individuals with eating disorders and their families often struggle during the holiday season. Fear of food, fat, self-condemnation, relational stress, anxiety and depression often are themes in households. Families brace themselves to deal with the awful and debilitating behaviors of their loved … [Read more...]

Why Do Women Trash Other Women’s Bodies?

Why Do Women Trash Other Women's Bodies? Body image and body issues continue to be ripe for conversations of all sorts.   Finding fault with someone else, particularly criticizing their body size and shape, is sometimes a national pastime;  the media i.e. reality TV feeds the frenzy.  Sometimes, t … [Read more...]

Eating as an Eating Disorder Therapist

Noticing how others can watch what you eat as an eating disorder therapist has its downsides when it is known what you do for a living. What someone does for a living is a common topic of conversation when meeting people for the first time.  Usually, in social situations, I casually avoid talking … [Read more...]

Duplicity, Lies, Manipulation, and Eating Disorders

No one doubts that many people with eating disorders often feel shame for their symptoms and behavior, particularly those suffering with bulimia. Admitting to yourself and others that you spend a portion or much of your day secretly eating copious quantities of food and then throwing up is often … [Read more...]

Sexual Satisfaction and Eating Disorders

Women with eating disorders often report a lack of sexual interest during the course of their eating disorder. Several solid studies, including one, which assessed 242 women, found that issues with physical intimacy, libido, sexual anxiety, and difficulty in romantic relationships are present among … [Read more...]

Getting Well Ain’t Easy

This blog first appeared as an article in "Addiction Professional Magazine" (2012) (Judy Scheel) Eating disorders are often difficult to treat, due in part to many patients being ambivalent about recovery. In a recent article in the International Journal of Eating Disorders (1) practitioners are … [Read more...]

Culture Dictates the Standard of Beauty

Human beings are sexual, aggressive, and social creatures. Sexual attraction is determined by many factors—organic (i.e. chemistry,) relational (mature replacements for mom and/or dad) and environmental (social and cultural). Pop culture tends to drive what is, well, popular. Social mores change to r … [Read more...]

Eating Disorders and Motivation

Eating disorders are often difficult to treat, due in part to many patients being ambivalent about recovery. In a recent article published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, practitioners are cautious about being too optimistic or invested in patients’ motivation.1The authors suggest t … [Read more...]

Growing Old, Hollywood, Culture and Loss

Is the correct phrasing that as we age, beauty fades or ripens? Depends who you ask. Hollywood aficionados have been telling us for a long time that there are fewer and fewer leading roles for women over 40. This rule did not seem to apply to men, until fairly recently. I Googled, “current H … [Read more...]

Is the False Self really the True Self in Eating Disorders?

D.W. Winnicott’s concept of ‘false self,’ is ubiquitous in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis. The term has come to have particular meaning in the understanding and treatment of eating disorders. In brief, Winnicott, a British mid 20th century psychoanalyst, influenced the course of Objec … [Read more...]

Gluten-Free: Fad, Friend, or Foe?

There are no fewer than 100 types of diets posted on WebMD’s list of “Weight Loss and Diet Plans.” http://www.webmd.com/diet (link is external) Some of them are memorable - shock value intended – the Grapefruit Diet, Personality Type Diet and Blood Type Diet. Some of them are true attempts at finding … [Read more...]

Fat Versus Eating Disorder

Americans are getting fatter and fatter. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are also on the rise as is Binge Eating Disorder. The Wall Street Journal reported (Sept. 11, 2013) on research conducted at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The study focused on impulsive eating and … [Read more...]

SuicideGirls

In a recent article in Portland Monthly Magazine (Shulsinger) “Is SuicideGirls' Mission of "Alternative Beauty" Still Relevant in 2013?” the founders of SuicideGirls commented that the term refers to “women who commit ‘social suicide’ by refusing to conform to the American ideal of a beautiful woman, … [Read more...]

Losing Perspective, Magazines and TV in NYC

I am a native New Yorker - Brooklyn born and raised and Manhattan life as an adult. I love my city. Having the luxury of being a professional in this City has been a mixed bag. The plus is that making it in NY is an accomplishment. My professional life is wonderful, especially now that the City … [Read more...]

The Fear of Fat: What Does It All Mean?

Americans invest an inordinate amount of time, energy and money trying to avoid gaining weight, losing weight and trying to keep weight that was lost permanently off. The term “fat” is synonymously used to describe how we should avoid looking as well as what foods we should avoid eat … [Read more...]

In Celebration of Life: Water May Be Too Much a Good Thing

Water….. replete with symbolism in the fields of psychology, spirituality, and anthropology. Change, life, death, murkiness, fear, sadness and freedom, to name just a few of the multitude and often-contradictory representations is that of water. Drinking clean water often represents the taking in of … [Read more...]

PTSD and Eating Disorders

PTSD- And How it Relates to Eating Disorders By Judy Scheel, Ph.D. Exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to one’s physical integrity is included in the DSMIV-R description o … [Read more...]

EDs Across Cultures – Increasing in Prevalence & Awareness?

I have the wonderful good fortune as I write to be at a Film Festival in France - Festival International du Film Fantastique de Gerardmer, now celebrating its 20th year. I am the guest of the Cinematographer and the Director of an Independent Film that was accepted in the competition. Removing … [Read more...]

Culture Provides Context, Not Cause

The professional eating disorder community is reaching agreement about what causes eating disorders. The truth is that there is no one single cause for every individual and no constellation of causes that fits everyone. Despite some efforts to push toward the idea that a gene or combination of genes … [Read more...]

“Coolness” associated with Celebrities with Eating Disorders

I have been asked lately about the seemingly “coolness” that is associated with celebrities with eating disorders. The question typically asked is whether it is causing more girls, young women, boys and men to develop eating disorders so they can be “cool” like celebrities. I say, NO, celebrites are … [Read more...]

Young Endurance Runners Draw Cheers & Concerns

I read the Sunday, November 4, 2012, NY Times article by Barry Berak, “Young Endurance Runners Draw Cheers and Concerns,” with an open mind and enthusiasm as a long time distance runner and someone who knows the psychological and physical benefits of running from a young age. Kaytlynn Welsch, 12 a … [Read more...]

Eating Disorders and Social Anxiety

Many individuals with eating disorders experience significant anxiety when in social situations. According to the Free Dictionary (Farlex www.medical-dictionary.the (link is external) free dictionary.com,) “anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a c … [Read more...]

Reflections on the 2012 Olympics

It is nice to be able to take a step back sometimes from viewing the world through the lens of a mental health practitioner who treats eating disorders. I generally do not pay attention when I am in restaurants except when the person, typically a very thin female, at a nearby table is telling the … [Read more...]

All or Nothing Perspective is No Perspective at All

There is general consensus that weight restoration in Anorexia Nervosa significantly improves mood, positively affects cognition and psychological functioning. Individuals diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa with concurrent significant depression whose weight was restored show significant improvement … [Read more...]

Does Understanding What Causes an Eating Disorder Matter?

There are several questions I am often asked. First, if a person recovers from an eating disorder without ever understanding what caused it in the first place is the recovery any less real or lasting? And, if the treatment being provided is behavioral only (symptom focused) but is effective in … [Read more...]

Motivating Loved Ones to Seek Recovery

People suffering from eating disorders are often ambivalent about recovering, which makes these types of illnesses harder to treat. Helping loved ones find their motivation for recovery can sometimes be hampered by the circumstances under which they “accepted” the need for treatment in the first pla … [Read more...]

Issues in Attachment That May Contribute to Eating Disorders

The majority of parents deeply feel and convey love for their children. The majority of parents of children with eating disorders are no different. There has been a lot of confusion and knee-jerk reactions to what attachment issues are and how they may contribute to eating disorders. But to be … [Read more...]

Shame, Blame and Eating Disorders

The concepts of shame and blame have emerged lately in relation to people with eating disorders and those who care for them, i.e. parents. We have long been dealing with helping patients with eating disorders not feel ashamed of their disorders, the secrets around their symptoms, or for that … [Read more...]

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

In the last few years, there's been a lot of progress in understanding what drives the development of eating disorders. And there will be an even stronger focus on understanding eating disorders between February 26 and March 3, 2012, as we recognize National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. … [Read more...]

Teen Power Struggles and Eating Disorders

The teenage years typically bring on feelings of separation and autonomy, often leading to a power struggle between a teen and his or her parents. Keeping an open line of communication between parents and teens is difficult, but integral to their development and growth. Power struggles, however, can … [Read more...]

Loss and Eating Disorders During the Holidays

Separation and loss are an inevitable process in life, and really all relationships. By being attached to someone, we are essentially setting ourselves up to experience the pain of loss and separation. Though normal, these are very difficult emotions to navigate through. And with the coming … [Read more...]

Will the Real Authentic Voices Please Stand up and Be Heard

"Anorexia Nervosa and the Language of Authenticity" is a recent report conducted by Tony Hope, Jacinta Tan, Anne Stewart and Ray Fitzpatrick and published by the Hastings Center (Nov-Dec 2011, Vol 41., Pp 23-29.). In this report, the concept of authenticity is explored thoughtfully through … [Read more...]

Coping with Holiday Health

The holidays are a time of family togetherness, and for the typical family, that often means plenty of holiday food and lots of time spent together. But for families coping with eating disorders, holiday meals can so often be more of a struggle than a celebration. In addition to issues around … [Read more...]

Linking Early Attachments to Eating Disorders Later on

Those of us in the clinical field know that eating disorders are complex, and what causes them and how to treat them is ever evolving. Research, for instance, is looking into genetic links, biological roots (including anxiety and depression) and personality traits, which all may play a role. We are … [Read more...]

Celebrities and Eating Disorders

Many of us have that star-struck interest—and sometimes even obsession—with celebrities and their lives. We live vicariously through them, and project our own unmet needs and dissatisfactions through fantasizing about their lives. And somehow who they are shakes out to being "better" than who we are … [Read more...]

Eating Disorders Affect Relationships

Relationships are not easy. And communication—though essential—does not come with a guarantee that a conversation won't start an emotional roller coaster ride. Love, loss, joy, sorrow, disappointments, insecurities, misunderstandings, anger and forgiveness are all natural ingredients in even the bes … [Read more...]

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