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Negative Voices

The section below attempts to describe what are called the "negative voices" heard by the sufferers of Eating Disorders. Also read the section on Perception.

... In terms of an Eating Disorder, the voices we hear, they are the voice we give to our own self-hate and lack of self-worth. They are sometimes referred to as negative voices, negative tapes, or negative thoughts.

For a person who has never suffered an Eating Disorder, the best way to understand the "voices" is to imagine your own self-dialogue. Have you ever made a mistake and berated yourself, in thought, for it? Have you ever had a hard time making a decision, and you mulled over all the pros and cons in your mind? Imagine that your own self-thinking and thoughts about yourself were nothing but negative, and imagine that it felt like the only way to get rid of that negative "voice" was by thinking about food, weight and eating.

As someone battling an Eating Disorder, there is so much confusion in hearing these "voices"... they speak from a place within us that is filled with low self-esteem, that wants to believe we deserve not to be happy, and to believe that we are worthless. I've heard them described as "loud thoughts", "my own head" and as "a voice/voices". They speak those things that convince us we're stupid, worthless, deserving to be unhappy, not to eat, to keep eating or that we have to get rid of what we ate. They tell us "the world would be better without you." They come from that place within us plagued with negativity and self-hate, encouraging us to continue with our Eating Disorder, and convincing us that we do not deserve recovery, that we deserve a life of pain.

The voices of our Eating Disorders also convince us we have no will power, that we are weak when we've eaten, and that no one will ever love us. They harass us with guilt and even berate us for the Eating Disorder behavior itself. It is no wonder recovery is so difficult and such hard work. We are battling with ourselves over what we are convinced we deserve (and that our negative voices keep reminding us of) as opposed to what we truly do deserve (recovery, happiness and self-love!).

Learning to deal with the voices is a difficult task... learning to not listen to them can be like killing your best friend. It's confusing and scary. In a lot of cases our Eating Disorders have kept us focused off of ourselves and emotions, and if we stop listening to the voices, well then what will feed our Eating Disorder? One of the essential ingredients to recovery is learning to love yourself, and the voices fight hard to keep that from happening. Once we can all conquer the voice or voices inside of us that continue to reinforce our negativity, we will find our path to the other side.

You can read more about the negative voices here, on the Mirror-Mirror Website by Colleen. If you are the loved-one of someone suffering, remember what you've read here and on Colleen's site... you need to support those suffering with an Eating Disorder with love, encouragement and positivity, and not to feed their negative voice with guilt or belittling. Also read the section, What You Can Do.

I have faith we can all fight the negative voices inside us and find our own roads to recovery. I personally and highly recommend buying books on self-affirmation, as well as a keeping a journal. A good way to get started is with a workbook I myself have used called Don't Diet, Live It! written by two women who have lived and recovered from Eating Disorders themselves. Please remember, I am right here fighting with you!

It is possible for a sufferer to be hearing actual voices, as a schizophrenic does -- in this case, it may be caused by extreme malnutrition or dehydration, or some other underlying psychiatric condition. In most cases, the most common use for the term "voices" is as I've described above, but in cases where a sufferer may actually be having auditory hallucinations, it must be addressed by hospitalization for malnutrition or by psychiatric medication. Hallucinations can also be an uncommon side-effect of some medications. Click here to read how auditory hallucinations can be a part of other psychiatric conditions, and what may cause them.

Also read: Distorted Perceptions and Perception Part II, Who Are "They"?


:: IN ENGLISH :: EN ESPAÑOL :: EN FRANÇAIS ::

:: Mental Health :: Voices :: Perception ::
Mind & Body :: Symptoms :: Questionnaire ::
Misconceptions :: Diabetes :: Phobias ::
Genetics and Biology :: WWW.Warning ::

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