As a lover of female beauty, I 've always had an especially soft spot for the young women who suffer from anorexia. It saddens me to the core to think of such beautiful human beings dying so horribly. And it outrages me, because it is so unnecessary. If not for the petty, shallow monsters out there who never seem to miss a maudlin media opportunity to perpetuate the absurd - and entirely unsupported - theory that anorexia is caused by 'unrealistic standards of beauty' or 'supermodels' or 'skinny models' or whoever happens to be considered beautiful at the time, we would long ago have discovered that the true cause of eating disorders is not female beauty at all, but something much darker and less beautiful than anything most of us can conceive of. But for the beauty haters out there who never seem to tire of blaming female beauty in any of its many manifestations for anorexia and eating disorders, we may have discovered a 'cure' for them by now. It's a revealing testiment to the depth of hatred some people have for female beauty that they are willing to let some of our best young women die, and continue dying excruciatingly horrible deaths - indefinitely, rather than miss even one of the many chances they get to slander female beauty every day.
In response to these people, and their desire to perpetuate anorexia, I've have been constantly on the lookout for some way to use Body in Mind as a way to help find a cure for it, to support any promising research in the area or successful treatment programs. But there have been none. Thanks to beauty haters and their propaganda, as far as I could tell, no one was even looking for one. Consequently, I have never found any idea or research worth supporting.
There is one person out there who can help. Her name is Peggy Claude-Pierre.
Believe it or not, Peggy Claude-Pierre is the only person who has ever made any significant discovery about the cause and cure of anorexia. Moreover, she is the only person who has ever cured anorexics 100% of the time. Anorexia is a disease that kills 1 in 4 who get it. The reason Peggy has fared so well when no one else seemed to be able to make head or tails of the disease, was the fact that she was forced to. When her own two daughters became anorectic, she had to look closer at the disease than popular culture ever would, in order to save their lives.
To do it, Peggy had to look past the popular myths about anorexia. She discovered that it was not caused by models or magazines, that it was not the result of sexual abuse, that it was not just a spoiled brat's cry for help, that it was not just dieting gone wrong, and that it was not some as yet undiscovered genetic disorder. Peggy discovered that anorexia is the result of what she calls 'The Negative Mind.'
The Negative Mind is a voice that appears over time in an anorexic's head. The Negative Mind is a voice that tells anorexics they are worthless and deserve to die. It denies them food because, in the scheme of things, food is life; and as the Negative Voice relentlessly insists, the victim does not deserve to live. "You are worthless", it reminds them, "more worthless than a crumb of dried, mold encrusted dogfood." Eventually the voice gets so loud and powerful that the victim has no power to fight it. It is a voice that only too often, only death can silence.
Peggy's discovery was a revelation to me. It had a profound effect on me because I have encountered this voice myself. While I am not an anorexic, many men do get the disease. So do boys. In fact, anorexia can afflict both males and females, and has been recorded in people as young as 3 and as old as 80. It is not just a disease of young women.
My experiences with the Negative Voice began in a drawing class in University.
Our professor decided to teach us a meditation technique that was supposed to help us get in touch with our individual creative energy.
The method he taught consisted of relaxing the entire body one part at a time, starting from the feet and ending in the center of one's head, at the Pineal gland. The Pineal gland is thought by mystics to be the exact center of the human brain, and romantically thought to be center of true creativity. However, when I got to my pineal gland, I discovered it housed something quite different.
To my great surprise, my pineal gland turned out to be the home of a wild-eyed red-headed maniac who, the moment I focused my attention on my Pineal gland, opened a big wooden door, thrust out his hideous smiling face, laughed the most derisive laugh I have ever heard, and tore a hole in my soul with eyes that seared with mocking anger. Then he slammed the door shut in my face.
I woke from my meditation with a start. For years afterwards, I was haunted by this terrifying mental tenant. It's method of torment was to respond to my every mental assertion with it's own negative assertions. For example, if I told myself I would have a good day, it would tell me I was going to have a rotten one. If I felt a pain in my body for whatever reason I would try to sooth myself and think about the pain simply dissolving away. The voice would interrupt my attempts to soothe myself by telling me the pain was a growing cancer, which was eating me alive.
You get the idea.
I tried everything to shut him up. I tried mentally outshouting him. I even tried shouting at him out loud. But he would listen patiently to my outbursts, waiting until I ran out of steam, and then would simply say with a quiet smug little smirk, "You're wrong." It got to the point where my sanity wearied to the point where I believed that, in any issue, whichever of us had the last word would get their way. Eventually the tenant didn't have to use theatrics to convince me of the truth of his assertions. He simply had to answer every assertion of mine with a negative, until I began to fear making any positive assertions at all.
As a result, over a period of several months, I became quite distraught. But I never gave up. I was constantly inventing new and creative ways to mentally fight this negative voice. Occasionally I would have an inspiration on how to beat him. Sometimes they would work, for a while, but ultimately, they would all fail. Eventually, I began unknowingly doing his dirty work for him. The Negative Voice had only to sit back and wait until my own conscientiousness would find the hole in my method - the flaw in my logic - where the Negative Voice could sneak through. The Negative Voice seemed to have a secret that I could not divine, something that gave him ultimate power over me.
Then one day the solution hit me out of the blue. I suddenly realized that the negative voice could say anything it wanted, but I didn't have to abide by it, nor even listen. I didn't have to do anything he said. He could say anything he liked but none of it mattered a goddamn any longer because I'd realized it was my head we lived in, not his. I did not need him to shut up, he needed me in order to have a voice at all. That was the secret that had eluded me. He had used intimidation, and my earnest desire to be as honest and conscientious as possible in order to make me forget that crucial fact.
The Negative Voice eventually went away after I realized this. I hear him occasionally, grumbling to himself, but now I'm the one who smirks in response.
I managed my way out of this mental mess with the help of two very important ideas, without which I believe I'd still be in that mess. The first idea is a wise Eskimo saying that says a man may have many thoughts in his head, but only the ones he chooses to act on are really his. This idea recognizes the fact that any number of thoughts can cross your mind or erupt from your subconscious without having to be consciously summoned. It also recognizes that you are only responsible for the ideas you act on. This idea helped me realize that I NEVER had to act on or even give the slightest credence to the Negative Voice's assertions. The voice could talk all it wanted. I didn't have to act on what it said. I would always have the power to choose my actions no matter what the voice said.
The second idea is one I relied on without even knowing it. In fact, I've only become aware of it these many years later. The idea is a simple law of nature: the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity is a discovery of Aristotle's, which says, that everything that exists is itself, and nothing else. In other words, a box is a box, not a cloud. A sea is a sea and not a dumpling. This might seem a bit esoteric to some, but not to someone with more than one voice in their head, believe me. The law of identity was what I was relying on to believe that I was me, and noone else. My brain is my brain, I thought, and my conscious thoughts are my conscious thoughts. And I am me, and noone else. Everything else, is something else, including the Negative Voice. It gave me great peace and security to believe this. I took comfort in the fact that nothing can ever change this law. Nothing.
Let me stress here that I was NEVER in any real physical or mental danger from the Negative Voice. It was annoying to the extreme, that's all. But there are some people out there who do not have the weapons I had to fight their negative voice, and it grows stronger and more destructive than mine ever did. Anorexics are some of these people. The pain and suffering they go through is more excruciating to the victim and more heartbreaking to their loved ones than most of us will ever be able to imagine. To get inside the disease I strongly recommend Peggy's book entitled, The Secret Language of Eating Disorders, published by Times Books. In it she shares her revolutionary discoveries about the true nature of anorexia, as well as the secrets of her unprecedentedly successful treatment method which she calls Montreux.
Montreaux consists of surrounding the victim of anorexia with unconditional love, the very love these victims have systematically denied themselves and have heaped on others their whole lives. Anorexics, it turns out, are Altruistic to a extreme. They are as close to truly selfless as a person can be. The problem, however, is not in the anorexic's extreme behaviour. The problem is in Altruism itself. Altruism cannot be practised. It is viable only in so much as we DO NOT practice it. To the extent one sacrifices the things one loves, one suffers. If one attempts to sacrifice everything one loves, one dies. Altruism is a cruel joke, invented by those who wish to benefit from the sacrifices of others, a joke that was never intended to be taken seriously. Even we ourselves preach altruism never really expecting anyone to follow it completely. Anorexics, however, do. They attempt to practice Altruism consistently. In fact, they are such moral creatures they swallow it whole.
And it's the last thing they ever do. Anorexics literally sacrifice themselves to death.
When it comes to curing those with anorexia, there is nothing and no one I support more strongly than Peggy Claude-Pierre. And I'm sure the love she gives to her patients goes along way to make up for the worthlessness they feel in a society that tells us - and forces us - to sacrifice ourselves to others.
However, personally, I am more concerned with preventing the disease from happening in the first place. This is where Peggy and I disagree. Peggy believes the Negative voice is the result of a geneticly predisposed tendancy towards extreme Altruism. I believe the tendency towards Altruism is taught, not genetic, and that the solution is not to teach it to chldren in the first place. I believe the only antidote for Altruism is the adoption of Rational Self-Interest as our moral code on a wide social and cultural scale. We need desparately to notice that it is perfectly possible to be selfish without hurting others, but it is not possible to be altruistic without hurting one's self. Altruism is not about generosity, benevolence, or kindness. It's about self-sacrifice and self-denial. It's about putting others above yourself, always. Altruism is an evil philosophy, the most evil ever to exist. It is meant to destroy all that is good in human beings. It is ultimately impracticable, and unnatural, as anorectics prove so well. If anorexia is ever to be wiped out, we will have to learn to be more horrified by it, than by the word 'selfish'.
I do agree with Peggy that anorexia is caused by a chronic lack of self - as are all self-destructive disorders. But I believe this lack of self can come about in others ways besides extreme altruism. Peggy has cured every single person who has stayed in her program. However, as she points out, not everyone chooses to stay. A few leave before treatment is complete. Perhaps these few prove my point. Perhaps they are representative of the small portion of our society which has not been taught Altruism as the highest moral ideal, but instead have failed to develop a real self for other reasons, such as hedonism, obsessive social conformity or something else. The cure in all cases of a lack of self is to nurture a powerful sense of self. The solution is to teach not Altruism, but Rational Selfishness, a morality invented by Ayn Rand that holds the attainment of one's carefully considered values in life as one's proper highest ideal. It's the kind of self-concern that places the self in the center of one's head so that no one else moves in, it places the self conscientiously above strangers in one's own priorities, but does not exclude all other people at all, indeed, this kind of selfishness often says the ones I love are more important to me than my life since my life isn't worth living without them. It's the kind of self-interest that motivated Peggy to endure the arduous task of nursing her daughters out of their anorexia, since her life wasn't worth living without them. Surely it can't be considered a sacrifice - an act of altruism - to save your own children? I would think one would want to do it!
It is my hope that those of you who wish to help anorexics to live will be inspired to donate a small amount of money to help Peggy Claude-Pierre cure the beautifully moral people who die from anorexia, for the same reason I am writing this page, not out of altruism, but out of the selfish desire to not have to see the young women you love, die horrible, twistedly preventable deaths.
When all is said and done, Selfishness, not Altruism, is the true cause of generosity, benevolence and kindness. On the other hand, Altruism causes only death.
It is our society's Negative Voice.
To visit Peggy's website or donate money to her cause please visit http://www.montreux.org. Thank you!