EDMONDS, WA--(Marketwire - Jul 10, 2012) - Eating disorders make a fascinating and emotional topic for a novel, and many fiction writers have built book plots around the struggles of anorexia and bulimia sufferers. Likewise, hundreds of non-fiction memoirs have been written that center around their authors' personal battles with eating disorders. But reading such books might not always be healthy or helpful for those who are suffering with or recovering from an eating disorder, according to psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz, an internationally known eating disorder therapist and author.
"Well-written, thoughtful books about eating disorders can be educational and inspirational," says Dr. Jantz, who operates Caring Online, a website that offers information on eating disorders and links to resources for treatment. "However, some eating disorder patients have reported that reading about others' experiences with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating can have detrimental effects instead. People who are struggling with disordered eating patterns should think carefully before exposing themselves to this material."
So-called "eating disorder lit" or "ED lit" can have effects that are quite the opposite of what its authors probably intended. While no book is going to cause someone to develop an eating disorder, reading vivid accounts of anorexic or bulimic behaviors can sometimes "trigger" similar behaviors in those who are already inclined to them.
Most writers portray living with an eating disorder as a nightmare, but that might not be the main point that comes across to some readers. Even the most cautionary tale of an eating disorder could serve as a "how-to" manual, inadvertently providing guidance and suggestions for dangerous weight control behaviors and for ways to conceal those behaviors from family and friends. Readers who are afflicted by an eating disorder also might view the protagonist in a work of ED lit as a "successful" heroine/hero to be admired and emulated, or as someone to compete with in terms of weight loss and thinness.
Dr. Jantz has authored many books on eating disorders and on healthy attitudes toward food, nutrition and wellness, including the bestselling Hope, Help and Healing for Eating Disorders. Dr. Jantz also founded and operates The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a residential treatment facility in Edmonds, WA that practices whole-person care for eating disorder sufferers.