Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014. Contributions by Sarah Emerman.
One of the saddest and complicated components of an eating disorder is how it encourages secrets. Behaviors, negative thoughts, feelings of shame, and the pain one carries often happen in secret. By the time someone presents for treatment they are so familiar and so used to keeping secrets that it can be very difficult to tell the truth.
Keeping secrets is not a failure, a betrayal, or an attempt by a patient to trick or fool a therapist or loved one. Keeping secrets is part of the illness. In treatment, we need to work on revealing secrets, becoming more honest, and finding ways to speak truths, even though those truths may feel that they expose us. They may expose how ill we really are, the sadness we carry, the obsessions of our minds, our fears that we will never recover, or past events that we wish were not true. The pain of holding secrets is too great and holding them only makes us sicker and less likely to receive the help we need. Like radical acceptance, treatment requires radical honesty for patients, therapists, and loved ones. Speaking our truths and being honest both in treatment and with oneself is truly a key to recovery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Warren, MD
Dr. Mark Warren is the Chief Medical Officer for The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative. He is also one of the original founders of the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders, which became The Emily Program – Cleveland in 2014. A Cleveland native, he is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School and completed his residency at Harvard Medical School. He served as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Medical Director of University Hospital Health System’s Laurelwood Hospital. A past vice-chair for clinical affairs at the Case School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, he continues on the Clinical Faculty of the Medical School, teaching in both the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. He is currently a faculty member and former chair of the Board of Governors at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. Dr. Warren is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a two-time recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and a winner of the Woodruff Award. He leads the Males and Eating Disorders special interest group for the Academy of Eating Disorders.