I have long been interested in what makes people change their beliefs, their way of thinking, and their attitudes towards things. I strongly believe that most eating disorders are caused by people’s wrong beliefs and attitudes towards themselves and others. Genetic predisposition also plays a role.
I was once reading an article on brainwashing. Brainwashing is any effort aimed at instilling in a person’s mind different beliefs and attitudes that eventually cause a person to behave in a certain way and believe in certain things. The communists used brainwashing a lot to spread the communist mentality. It was also used on prisoners of war in the Korean War, when American soldiers, after being captured and held in Chinese camps, sometimes ended up siding with the Communists and considered themselves their supporters.
Brainwashing occurs when people join strange cults or religious groups. These change the identity of people completely, just like anorexia changes the identity of people completely.
So, you see, brainwashing is something that can change your total identity. The media do it all the time too. And not only the media like the culture you live in can also brainwash you.
When I was reading this I thought: How important is brainwashing to developing anorexia! Anorexics actually become victims of brainwashing – all of their value systems and thought patterns change within months after getting anorexia.
American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lipton conducted a special research project on what brainwashing involves. He came up with a list of steps for brainwashing techniques:
1. Assault on identity
2. Guilt and shame
4. Break point
6. Obligation to confess
7. Channeling of guilt
8. Release from guilt
9. Progress and harmony
10. Final confession and rebirth
Do I think anorexia goes through similar stages? I think it really does when you think about it. The only difference is that when people are brainwashed, it is deliberately done by someone else. In the case of anorexia, people normally perceive the events of their life and what happens to them and take it the wrong way, then they become prisoners of their own thoughts and feelings.
I have looked at the previous brainwashing steps in relation to eating disorders and this is what I came up with:
1. Assault on identity: when anorexia begins after an emotional event or series of events, the anorexic begins to think that she is not who she should be and who she wants to be. The person is under constant identity attacks for days, weeks or months, to the point that they are exhausted, confused and disoriented. In this state, your beliefs seem less solid. They look around for a substitute for their identity.
2. Guilt and Shame: Constant thoughts: “You are as bad as you are.” They feel that their body is disgusting, they feel ashamed of their own body. When the development of anorexia coincides with the time of puberty, thoughts of being ashamed of your own body are associated with feelings of dislike of sex and intimacy and this can have dramatic consequences. Associations of guilt and shame about intimacy can end up being a life sentence for many victims, unless major neuroplastic changes are instigated later in life.
Eating can also be associated with guilt and this is one of the main reasons that anorexia turns into bulimia at a later stage of the disease for some patients. People begin to feel a general sense of shame, that everything they do is wrong.
Many researchers have shown that feelings of guilt are closely associated with the development of eating disorders (especially bulimia and binge eating).
3. Self-betrayal: This is when anorexia starts telling you, “Agree with me, you’re bad.” And once the person is confused and choked with guilt, these thoughts force them to withdraw from their family, friends and colleagues who are eating normally and enjoying their life. This betrayal of their own confidence in themselves and in those close to them increases the shame and loss of identity that the person is already experiencing.
4. Breakpoint: The patient constantly asks, “Who am I, where am I, and what am I supposed to do?” At this point the person has their identity in crisis, experiencing deep shame and guilt. In addition, the person may have a “nervous breakdown”. This can involve uncontrollable sobbing, deep depression, and general disorientation and withdrawal. Not everyone has the same severity of symptoms, but many people have this exact reaction.
5. Clemency: Anorexia tells the victim: “Follow me, I can help you.” Anorexics often believe that their anorexia is the only way of life they can follow. Performing anorexic behavior, such as starving, purging, which gives them temporary relief from their feelings, albeit short-lived. But then it demands more and more attention until the person is 100% consumed by his distorted anorexic thoughts and feelings.
6. Compulsion to Confession: “I can help myself.”
For the first time in the brainwashing process, the anorexic faces the contrast between the guilt and pain of identity and the sudden feelings of relief and indulgence. The person may feel the desire to talk to other people with the same problems and visit “inspiration” sites (sites that are created by other patients to try to justify their inability to deal with their anorexia in the real world). start sharing your experiences with anorexia, give yourself advice on the best diet, tricks to induce vomiting, run contests about who has lost the most weight, etc. The victim begins to confess that anorexia is his lifestyle.
7. Channeling Guilt: This is why you feel pain. After weeks or months of suffering, confusion, collapse, and moments of indulgence, the person’s guilt has lost all meaning – numbness replaces everything. This creates a kind of blank slate that allows anorexia to penetrate deeper and deeper into the soul. Anorexia adheres to the person’s belief and guilt system as opposed to healthy people. For example, food is associated with guilt and shame.
It is the stage when anorexics begin to have tantrums when parents try to feed or persuade them to eat and stop their abnormal behavior. They begin to believe that anorexia is not a disease but a lifestyle and they associate with anorexia: they become one with the disease.
8. Release from guilt: it’s not me; are my beliefs. With his full confessions, the person has completed his psychological rejection of his old identity. The victim has been gradually abandoning all activities that he previously enjoyed, leaving his job or university instead of his university. All of this is just for practicing the lifestyle that anorexia provides. People start joining pro-anorexia groups, forums, seeking justification, etc.
9. Progress and harmony: “If you want, you can choose the good.” – his friends say “thinspiration”.
These “Thinspiration” friends introduce a new belief system as the path to “good.” At this stage, anorexia stops hurting, offering the patient physical comfort and mental calm along with their new belief system. People develop a “team spirit” attitude with their friends who practice the same dangerous way of life.
10. Final confession and rebirth: Your mind is equal to your Anorexia that tells you: “I choose the good.”
Good is anorexia. The person has no doubt about the correctness of his choice to be anorexic. At this stage it seems impossible to separate from anorexia. People continue to practice this dangerous way of life. Thousands of them die as a result of this sooner rather than later. Some may live longer, but eventually die from serious complications or commit suicide due to their hunger and the fact that they cannot cope with life and cannot evaluate things logically.
This is how the anorexic mind is programmed (brainwashed) to be the way people suffer from severe anorexia. Most people with eating disorders go through similar stages, but these stages often occur differently for each patient and it is difficult to tell the difference.
The purpose of this article is to show you what the brainwashing process is all about and that what happens in cults and POW camps is similar to what happens in people with anorexia.
I also want to point out that the phenomenon of anorexia occurs mainly in the relatively young.
People in the past did not have anorexia to the same extent that we do today. In the past, single cases of anorexia were described only in people who starved for religious, religious and similar reasons. No anorexic cases were reported of people striving to be thin for the sake of beauty or for prestige reasons.
All of this points to anorexia being a modern disease: I believe it is caused by some beauty product advertisers and the media promoting beauty standards that are impossible for normal human beings to achieve. It can be said that it is designed to make people buy more and more beauty and slimming products, making someone extremely wealthy, built on the suffering of many.
The solution to this problem is to teach young people and emphasize natural and internal beauty. Make young people strive to learn, study and expand their minds, not for this unattainable aspect that some media and others portray as beautiful. For many young people, reaching this unattainable level only brings suffering, deprivation and death.