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Perfectionism Linked to Eating Disorders

Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders, Nation's Leading Eating Disorder Treatment Center, Reports Patterns of Self-defeating Thoughts and Behaviors Link Perfectionism and Eating Disorders


Contact:  Mary Anne Morrow, Blossom Communications Inc., 602-332-9026, PRMaryAnne@earthlink.net


PHOENIX, Apr. 4 /Christian Newswire/ -- Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders, the nation's leading eating disorder treatment center, reports eating disorders and perfectionism often coexist, causing unrealistic personal goals and standards.


"Like perfectionism, eating disorders typically involve self-defeating thoughts and behaviors aimed at reaching excessively high and unrealistic goals related to one's physical appearance and body image," said Jennifer Lafferty, PsyD, staff psychologist at Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders.  "Individuals with eating disorders are obsessed with rigid control over their body, weight and appearance.  This results in compulsive patterns of behavior that help the individual maintain a sense of control."


Both perfectionism and eating disorders involve excessive self-criticism and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness when unrealistic goals are not met.  Research also shows that perfectionist tendencies may be more common in individuals who are by nature eager to meet the demands and expectations of their environment and fearful of making mistakes.


Other high risk factors for developing eating disorders include growing up in an environment that's highly demanding or punishing, or an environment where love and support are contingent on performance.  Individuals in these types of environments tend to internalize high expectations and develop tendencies towards self-punishment and self-blame, core features of perfectionism and eating disorders.


Warning signs of an eating disorder include:  obsessive pre-occupation with one's appearance, body image, weight and food intake.  Individuals with eating disorders base their self worth on their weight and body image such that a small increase in weight or a "bad body image day" may result in intense feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing.  Similarly, individuals who struggle with perfectionism base their worth on personal performance.  For example, receiving a B on a test may trigger intense feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness for a perfectionist student.  In both perfectionism and eating disorders, the pursuit of perfections becomes all consuming, leaving no space for relationships, leisure or personal growth. The obsessive pursuit of perfection is the only goal.


Parents who notice perfectionism in their child should try and reduce the pressure to perform in the family environment.  An effective way to do this is to affirm and praise your child for personal attributes such as kindness, generosity, or patience, rather than affirming them for performance or accomplishments alone.


"It's important for parents to model healthy self-affirmation and self-acceptance," adds Lafferty.  "A child who grows up hearing his or her parents constantly criticizing themselves will internalize the same type of self-loathing, even if the parent is making every effort to praise their child."


Mothers should be particularly mindful of how they talk about their own bodies and how they treat their own bodies.  Children whose mothers are constantly dieting and obsessing about body image tend to develop similar obsessions, even if they're told they're beautiful.


Remuda Programs for Eating Disorders offers Christian inpatient and residential treatment for women and girls of all faiths suffering from an eating disorder.  Each patient is treated by a multi-disciplinary team including a Psychiatric and a Primary Care Provider, Registered Dietitian, Masters Level therapist, Psychologist and Registered Nurse. The professional staff equips each patient with the right tools to live a healthy, productive life.  For more information, call 1-800-445-1900 or visit www.remudaranch.com