October 30, 2007
“From the outside looking in,
You can’t understand it.
From the inside looking out,
You can’t explain it.”
(Schaefer, 2004: xxviii)
“Life without Ed: How one woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How you can too,” shows the courage of a young woman who finally leaves behind her biggest crutch; E.D., her eating disorder. For more than 20 years, Jenni Schaefer was controlled and abused by a man name E.D. (her eating disorder). He abused her both physically, encouraging her to become emaciated and helping her to develop osteopenea. He also abused her mentally, calling her names, denying her feelings and leaving her completely depressed. After more than two decades under his control, Jenni decided she wanted her freedom back and chose to let of go of E.D. Though, throughout her recovery she stumbled and fell, relapsed several times and even convinced herself she would never recover, she finally regained her own life back today; her life without E.D. This book is extremely well written and speaks to its readers. Jenni wrote this book to persuade her readers to let go of E.D. before getting trapped under his spell. She also wrote it to help those who have struggled for many years, hoping to encourage them to get help because recovery is possible. People develop eating disorders for many reasons. Jenni was told as a four-year-old dancer that she needed to be thin; food controlled her life ever since (Schaefer, 2004: xxii). Nearly five to ten million women in the United States suffer from some type of eating disorder (Schaefer, 2004: xxvi). Whether it is anorexia, bulimia, restriction, over-eating or over- exercise, a man named E.D. controls every aspect of their lives. Eating disorders are serious addictions that can and do kill both men and women. In order to begin to recover from an eating disorder, one must admit to their problem and then commit to an intensive battle of recovery. When struggling with an eating disorder it is truly impossible to actually live. Once free from E.D.’s control, life becomes exciting again and each day becomes a new adventure. This paper will connect the processes of an eating disorder, including the recovery process, to social psychological concepts, theories and ideas to understand the extreme difficulties of ultimately breaking free from E.D.
Throughout Jenni’s life with and without E.D. she has been her own investigator, researching to find a way of life that would bring her recovery. Jenni constructed her own field research, “research done in natural, real-life settings outside of the laboratory (Myers, 1993: 40),” as she battled through her eating disorder. Her research, done at home, at work and in therapy, allowed her to discover how she would recover. With hard work, Jenni‘s field research paid off because she no longer lives with E.D., however the process was not simple. She first had to escape from E.D.’s control. This was difficult because she held a belief perseverance supporting E.D. despite overwhelming concern from others. Belief perseverance is, “persistence of one’s initial conceptions, as when the basis for one’s belief is discredited but an explanation of why the belief might be true survives (Myers, 1993: 44).” This applies to Jenni and E.D. because at the beginning of their relationship she believed in everything he told her. Even when her therapist and doctors told her that he was only hurting her, she continued supporting his wishes. E.D. always remained by her side telling her she could trust him and to follow his path. E.D. was the only irrational person that supported her desires to get even thinner.
When trying to understand how Jenni can change her behaviors in order to recover, social psychologists should use the cognitive perspective of psychology. This approach to social psychology proposes that our behavior can best be...