Eating Disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behaviour, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake, bingeing and vomiting, or severe overeating. This is accompanied by feelings of distress about body shape or weight and distorted body image.
The main types of Eating Disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third type, binge-eating disorder (or compulsive eating), has been suggested but has not yet been approved as a formal psychiatric diagnosis.
Eating Disorders are not merely eating patterns out of control but are maladaptive patterns of eating which take on a life of their own and mask a host of other problems. They are complex and frequently occur with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, addictions, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and dissociative disorders and self-injury.
Dissociation is a common and healthy defence used in response to life-threatening danger and is associated with memory loss and a sense of disconnection from oneself or one's surroundings. Most people experience mild dissociative symptoms such as daydreaming, getting lost in a good book or not recalling details on a car journey (particularly where there is monotonous driving on a motorway).
Dissociation exists on a continuum with these everyday symptoms at one end and with more severe symptoms, such as amnesia and identity alteration, at the other end. At this end dissociation is often described as ‘going away’ as the person voluntarily 'leaves their own body'. These severe symptoms usually indicate a Dissociative Disorder, particularly if persistent, difficult to control and affecting everyday life.