Eating disorders, emetophobia and Christmas
The quiet commuter town was in shock. A small hatchback, seemingly abandoned in the car-park of the local gym, was now cordoned off. Police and forensic officers were inspecting the open driver’s door. A mobile phone, lip-stick and loose change were scattered on the grass nearby. The victim, a female in her early twenties was nowhere to be found. It was beginning to look like kidnap. The girl’s parents were utterly distraught, caught in a nightmare – and so close to Christmas too. The manhunt quickly extended across the whole country – but there were no clues. She had simply vanished.
Christmas that year was blighted by anxiety over the victim’s whereabouts. There had been no contact from the girl and no ransom demand from her abductors. The police were baffled.
Then, a few days after Christmas, there was a breakthrough. A female fitting the description had been discovered in a confused state at Heathrow airport. Eventually the story became clear. The missing girl suffered with an eating disorder. She had always dreaded Christmas and especially, the abundance of food on display. Well meaning relatives would pressure her to eat – the one thing she found so difficult. In a moment of madness, she had decided to stage her own abduction and escape the Christmas festivities. It was crazy of course and she later bitterly regretted the distress she had caused.
This is a true story. It illustrates how people with eating disorders can view Christmas from a threatening perspective. Emetophobia patients have recently expressed strikingly similar sentiments.
In 1974, Dr Wijesingh reported positive outcomes from hypnotherapy in emetophobia patients. Since that time, many therapists have had success in reducing food based anxiety and panic. Rob Kelly has published extensively on this distressing condition.
Christmas is coming, so now is the ideal time to address food related anxiety. Hypnotherapy can really help sufferers manage the fear and anxiety that can become overwhelming at this time of year.
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