Rage Against the (Eating Disorder) Machine: Harnessing Collective Anger to Make Change in Eating Disorder Treatment and Representations of Recovery

Oct 6, 2019

15:45

Zoom Webinar

30 mins

KEYNOTE

From a very young age, we are taught to be afraid of anger. In the eating disorders field, this fear is evident: researchers, treatment providers, supporters, and people with lived experience (and those who experience overlapping identities) are taught that in order to be heard, they need to package critiques in a particular way. And yet, significant harms occur in the field—in research, in treatment, in advocacy, and in representations of eating disorders and recovery—every single day. People are denied treatment because their eating disorders do not fit the constellation of symptoms that have been assembled into eating disorder diagnoses. Lived experiences are not trusted, particularly amongst those who are multiply marginalized (along the lines of gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, body size and more). Weight stigmatizing, racist, transphobic, ableist, and other problematic attitudes exist unchecked in some treatment milieus. Efficiency-oriented approaches, including standardized meal plans and treatment recommendations that place the problem within the individual are often favoured over culturally-competent approaches.

We cannot pretend that these harms do not impact us emotionally, no matter what hat we wear. In this talk, we will explore the “machinery” of eating disorder treatment-as-usual and some key spaces where harms can occur. This will provide a backdrop for reflections on how, often, treatment-as-usual does not promote recoveries that are accessible for all people. Further, the surveillance and focus on “performing good patient” sets people up for a kind of docility that may make navigating a complex world where there are many sets of instructions for food and bodies and where people are expected to make “the correct choice” for health challenging. Of course, different models of treatment do exist, and change is possible. And, to make systemic change, we need to make peace with anger. We need to make peace with failure, with difference, and with complexity.

In this talk, we will explore the “machinery” of eating disorder treatment-as-usual and some key spaces where harms can occur. This will provide a backdrop for reflections on how, often, treatment-as-usual does not promote recoveries that are accessible for all people. Further, the surveillance and focus on “performing good patient” sets people up for a kind of docility that may make navigating a complex world where there are many sets of instructions for food and bodies and where people are expected to make “the correct choice” for health challenging.

Of course, different models of treatment do exist, and change is possible. And, to make systemic change, we need to make peace with anger. We need to make peace with failure, with difference, and with complexity. In this talk, we will consider what drives the continued presence of harms—such as capitalist medical models, conflicting advice and instructions of bodies, and unchecked biases.

  • Dr. Andrea LaMarre, PhD