Childhood Trauma Analysis

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A final piece to understanding the link between eating disorders and child abuse is trauma itself. “Children and Trauma” by Cynthia Monahon explains how childhood trauma affects mental development, which connects back to the correlation between body-image and PTSD. Important aspects of trauma include: experiences, sources, and signs of trauma. Not only are these aspects reviewed in the book, but also in an article by Annika Lejonclou. “Variants of Potentially Traumatizing Life Events in Eating Disorder Patients” builds a bridge between Monahon’s ideas and eating disorders. Trauma is defined as “the occurrence of the unthinkable” and happens when an “extraordinary, external event overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope” (Monahon 1). In other …show more content…
Because this statistic is so high, it is inevitable that many sufferers of anorexia experience trauma, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse during their lifetime. According to Moulding, the link between trauma and eating disorders is described as “self-punishment.” In order to cope with trauma from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, victims will starve themselves. For example, one of the patients from Moulding’s study named Louise suffered from physical abuse and would go through periods of starvation because she felt that she did not “deserve to eat.” Punishment is “driven by abuse-related feelings of self-hatred and unworthiness” (1469). Sufferers of anorexia will avoid food “despite feeling hunger pangs and other physical symptoms” in order to punish themselves. Also, people in this group “report thinking about food 70-85% of the time.” Some individuals will go to extremes such as becoming “vegetarians or vegans as a way of justifying their avoidance of meat or dairy products” (Reed 27-28). Coming from a personal perspective, I experienced abuse at a young age and later suffered from anorexia. Years later, I developed a vegan diet to lower my calorie intake and would avoid questioning from my peers as a form of self punishment, similar to other individuals with anorexia. Reed connects Monahon’s ideas of traumatic personality …show more content…
People who suffer from BED seek comfort within food and constantly feel a sense of guilt. Studies show that “maltreatment, such as neglect and emotional abuse, was common in the history of people who engaged in binge eating” (Lejonclou 662). Binge eating disorder consists of eating a large amount of food “in a discrete amount of time” with “a lack of control over eating during the episode.” Binge eating disorder puts people at risk of being overweight and having body dissatisfaction (Smolak 166). The correlation between binge eating disorder and emotional abuse is shown in Carmel’s case from Moulding’s study. Carmel “emphasizes the role of distress related to emotional abuse as central to her binge-eating disorder,” and recalls being emotionally abused by her parents from a young age. Feelings of “unworthiness” and “powerlessness” were used to describe her experience with abuse and BED. These feelings parallel with both anorexia and bulimia which shows that connection between trauma and eating disorders. In order to relieve negative feelings, individuals with binge eating disorder seek comfort in binging because “food doesn’t argue back and food doesn’t tell you what to do” (1464-1467). When a binge occurs, the individual will eat at a rapid pace, eat until they feel uncomfortable, eat large amounts of food, and will feel disgusted with his or herself after the episode

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