Although we have known for some time that the underlying issue for eating disorders is a need for control, research now links this need for control to unresolved pain from significantly hurtful experiences in a person's life. According to Dr. Gregory Jantz in his book Hope, Help and Healing for Eating Disorders (Shaw Books, 2002), "Studies have indicated that 80 percent or more of people with eating disorders have been victims of some sort of abuse--whether verbal, emotional, physical or sexual. By controlling what you eat, you are really trying to control that terrible pain."

Janzt adds, "To make a lasting and permanent recovery from an eating disorder, a person must first deal with and resolve this pain." If you are looking for a treatment program for yourself or someone you love, you cannot assume they are all alike. According to Jantz, for lasting change, be sure the program you choose is set up to help participants cope with the resolution of deep hurt and abuse.

KARA DAVIS, M.D., is a doctor of internal medicine and a former assistant professor of medicine at the University of Illinois. She is also the author of Spiritual Secrets to Weight Loss (Charisma House).

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