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Question
Posted by: sam | 2011/06/16

Thinking

I have heard before that all good/all bad or black/white thinking is typical of " addictive thinking"  and common in eating disorders. Why is that the case? And what are the dangers?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hi Sam,
You are describing what in our language is referred to as dichotomous thinking, where thinking in extremes is the result of struggling to identify or behave with moderation. It would be true to say that many addicts and individuals with addictive personalities do struggle to moderate their lives and tend, rather, to respond to situations in extreme "all-or-nothing" ways. The "value" to the sufferer is that it appears to them that they are being more decisive and clear in their actions if they are black or white, rather than engaging in the sensitivities of the many grey shades. Being an extremist, is also an expression of impulsivity, something that most addicts struggle with and need to become equipped to deal with more maturely and responsibly. Many addicts (certainly not all) also suffer from a personality disorder called Borderline Pesonality Disorder (Google it), where one of the features that defines the disorder is "dichotomous thinking". Such personalities tend to be very self-destructive, unstable in their relationships, fear rejection, and engage in dangerous situations. Being borderline is quite common amongst bulimics, where their dichotomous thinking is acted out in the eating disorder that involved extremes, viz, binging and purging. In other words, the eating disorder is a symptomatic vehicle or metaphor that refelcts their extremist thinking and actions. I hope that this heps a little.
Regards,
Graham

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Kasandra | 2011/06/17

If you put food in groups like good and bad your seting yourself up for the guilty feeling afterwards. So you striving to be " good"  by eating the " good"  foods and avoiding the " bad"  but then no one can be perfect and you slilp up and feel bad and you want to punish youself. It becomeas a vicious cyle.

Rather focus on any food in moderation is ok. That way you dont have the ups and downs or guilt when you want to eat.

Also dont have the negative view of certain foods.

Reply to Kasandra
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2011/06/17

Hi Sam,
You are describing what in our language is referred to as dichotomous thinking, where thinking in extremes is the result of struggling to identify or behave with moderation. It would be true to say that many addicts and individuals with addictive personalities do struggle to moderate their lives and tend, rather, to respond to situations in extreme "all-or-nothing" ways. The "value" to the sufferer is that it appears to them that they are being more decisive and clear in their actions if they are black or white, rather than engaging in the sensitivities of the many grey shades. Being an extremist, is also an expression of impulsivity, something that most addicts struggle with and need to become equipped to deal with more maturely and responsibly. Many addicts (certainly not all) also suffer from a personality disorder called Borderline Pesonality Disorder (Google it), where one of the features that defines the disorder is "dichotomous thinking". Such personalities tend to be very self-destructive, unstable in their relationships, fear rejection, and engage in dangerous situations. Being borderline is quite common amongst bulimics, where their dichotomous thinking is acted out in the eating disorder that involved extremes, viz, binging and purging. In other words, the eating disorder is a symptomatic vehicle or metaphor that refelcts their extremist thinking and actions. I hope that this heps a little.
Regards,
Graham

Reply to Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert

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