𝗣𝗗𝗙 | This paper examines the therapeutic aspects of the ideology of Overeaters Anonymous as a cognitive antidote to maladaptive beliefs. What is Abstinence in Overeaters. Anonymous? Current Definition: “Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors. This 2 book bundle pack includes both the new "Overeater's Anonymous, 3rd Also available on CD and PDF (See page 10 for CD and page 8 for PDF).
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2, Summer ( ) EATING DISORDERS AND RECOVERY: LESSONS FROM OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS Natti Ronel, Ph.D., and Galit Libman. I have been in OA more than 30 years and currently have about 13 ½ years of day-in, day-out abstinence maintaining a + weight loss. This literature has been locally produced by Overeaters Anonymous Great Britain Adapted from pellwillfigalus.gq
It is replaced by acceptance of the self and the perception of proven personal ability, within an experience of self that does not aspire to control.
In other words, the expectation for control brings with it the experience of the self as helpless Kalo, Release from the expectation for control supports the experience of a self that admits its powerlessness and is liberated in so doing. I came to terms with myself as a woman and also felt sexual and feminine.
Inter- view no. It accompanies all the other steps, and influences their nature. Most members reported that spirituality had not been a part of their lives prior to joining OA. The majority came from secular-atheist back- S grounds, with a basic attitude of relying solely on their own capacities S N and willpower. Often, God was viewed as threatening and distant: There was one God for everyone. On the other hand, I believed that God punished, punished every bad thought or deed.
I thought to myself—what are they talking about? In this attitude, egocentricity and exaggerated, false self- confidence perpetuate the problem that led them to join OA.
According to members who underwent a change in this domain, spirituality influenced every domain of their lives, guiding them in everyday endeavors and in their self-reflection as moral beings. Many members reported greater confidence, less existential anxiety, and richer meaning to their lives, following their newfound belief in God: I believe that a supreme power is guiding me, a miracle has happened to me.
Powerful belief. The 12 steps are suitable even for an atheist like me, as well as for skeptics and religious people.
At first, the group was a supreme power for me, and later I found a power within myself that helped me to overcome, when I took a sponsor. Inter- S N view no.
At the start, the Higher Power is connected with tangible entities like the group, the sponsor, the group-members, or even the Step program. As they progress in OA, belief becomes linked to God as the Higher Power, where each member understands God in her own way. God is understood by most members as a Higher Power who guides, helps, and grants unconditional security, love, and support, not as a system of reward and punishment.
The relationship with Him is described as a direct, personal one: A positive power that loves and protects, is always with me and helps me to extricate myself from difficult situations. For them, reach- ing belief in a Higher Power is, in this sense, the direct empowerment of self-esteem, continuing the previously noted increase in self-esteem.
Some OA members reported that once they understood that the Higher Power is a part of them, they found it easier to understand the spiritual founda- tion as an element in recovery, while adhering to their previous secular outlook.
Relations with Others Most testimonies from group members about their interpersonal rela- tionships before joining OA describe them as superficial, marked by ag- gressiveness and competitiveness.
Accordingly, OA members describe former rela- tionships as judgmental, based on gossiping about and meddling in the lives of others. Their descriptions reveal what they defined as the inability to set boundaries between the self and others. I was angry with everyone, I thought I was the only one S N who worked properly. Giving in to others was usually based on the need to be liked by them. For many OA members, relation- ships were not close and sharing, but characterized by guilt and shame.
Added to these was the sense of rejection by others, usually linked with external appearance fat.
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Fat people are cut-off from and rejected by a society that does not easily accept the overweight. Among those members who suffer from other eating disorders that are not expressed in overweight, feelings of shame and guilt arose as a result of concealing the disorder.
Group relationships constitute a major aspect of OA. They provide both a re- sponse to the isolation caused by overeating, and options for meeting women with a similar problem. If the latter is not fully implemented, it is at least the declared aspiration, and its partial implementation is embodied in various members Ronel, b. Even a partial implementation of that declared aspiration awards members with a shared experience of deep reciprocal relations, which are unknown to them outside the group.
Sharing the weaknesses, the vulnerability, and the very difficult situations encountered by everyone in the group, creates an atmosphere of understanding, identification, and love, even if unspoken. Members also claim a growing ability for intimacy, resulting from fully sharing all aspects of their lives—open and hidden— with the more veteran members of the group who serve as sponsors: There are no demands, no judg- ments.
The group is a kind of womb. Suspicion was replaced by great faith in others. Using the term coined by Bateson , the interviewees say that their perception of relationships shifts from a symmetrical to a harmonious one.
Together with these changes, many members claim that once they become involved with OA, they stop trying to please others. They learn to take personal responsibility and to be assertive. And I also feel that relations with my family are fun. In turn, this creates a cycle of recovery that boosts changes in other life domains experience of self, the Higher Power, and the perception of the problem.
Compulsiveness is ex- pressed not only in overeating, but also in bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Many members consider the problem to be purely physical, though some- times as a psychological problem too.
The majority believe that their condition stems from their weak willpower, an attitude that generates feelings of guilt, failure, and lack of self-control. In most cases, it aggra- vates their eating compulsion. The prevailing norms of control in modern Western society encourage this perception, inasmuch as excess weight is considered a morally reprehensible form of deviance.
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Most members came to OA after having tried a range of solutions like drastic diets, surgery, or alternative therapies. Some have tried psy- S chological therapy.
In most cases, the specific solution they chose had S N failed, and the failure was perceived as part of their experience of self. I thought I had no willpower, and this created feelings of guilt and misery.
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I lost weight, then gained, over and over again. I even tried psychology. Food had a dramatic place in my life. The problem is no longer considered as stemming from weak willpower that cannot resist food, or from the inability to diet suc- cessfully. Like members of AA and NA, the women in OA view their eating disorder as an allergy or a chronic disease of addiction that worsens with time Alcoholics Anonymous, , , ; Ronel, The disease is expressed at three levels—the physical, mental, and spiritual.
Since it concerns a disease, in this perception its sufferers are powerless in the face of certain kinds of food and specific ways of eating.
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When eating a specific food, or when eating irregularly, the physical allergy is sparked off, expressed in the uncontrollable urge to eat more and more. Throughout their lives, compulsive eaters will be powerless when confronting food, and must accept this as part of their experience of self.
However, OA members believe that recovery can be maintained as a constant process. Personal responsibility starts by abstaining. OA maintains that full abstinence is necessary to maintain recovery.
In this way, OA encourages actual control of behavior. S Adhering to careful abstaining behavior alleviates the daily struggle with S N food. Today I understand that addicted people are sucked in, finding solutions in a specific way. AA and NA groups define their members as powerless against alcohol or drugs and propose total abstinence from them as the means to recovery. Unlike food, which is a vital necessity for human survival, alcohol and drugs are not necessary for existence and it is possible to abstain from them totally.
As mentioned, OA members are not directed to total abstention from food, but to eat a specific food in a specific way. A dramatic transformation was found to have occurred among many OA members, reflecting their progress toward recovery. While some members attested to a marked, stable transforma- tion in worldview that included several domains, others underwent more moderate changes, with occasional regressions. When their eating disorder was active, many OA members main- tained that their experience of self was composed of an obsessive aspira- tion for perfection that concealed their sense of worthlessness.
Those members felt as if they played the role of a Higher Power, and described the constant internal demand for control of every aspect of their lives. This led them to competitive relationships and power-struggles with others.
At S the same time, they were unable to control their interior world and their S N own behavior. During recovery, the mem- bers learned to accept their limitation, which was defined as being power- less over eating, not as weak willpower.
As a result, they are freed from the attendant feelings of failure and worthless- ness. This experience encourages the possibility of developing belief in a Higher Power, as well as developing harmonious relations with others. Paradoxically, it appears that once OA members relinquish control, their capacity to take responsibility for their lives increases, as well as their ability to restrain the eating disorder.
What can practitioners learn from the subjective experience of OA members during the two phases—the phase of irregular eating, and the recovery phase? Above all, it seems clear that a transformation in world- view is likely to be part of recovery. Hence, clinicians can help their clients to explore and modify their worldview in a direction that supports recovery. Clinicians can offer their clients a definite worldview that en- hances recovery, and supports them in their everyday struggle towards recovery.
OA proposes a worldview that practitioners can apply in their recovery plans. Furthermore, the OA worldview could provide a useful clinical frame- work for guiding various therapy goals and methods.
For example, a noticeable fact about OA members is that many of them cited loneliness as a central component of their experience Valentin, They felt alone even while surrounded by their closest family members.
That sense of isolation propelled them into irregular eating, which in turn increased their sense of alienation. During recovery, the social network played a major role in their self-transformation.
Practitioners aware of the inherent potential of social networks during recovery could use them as a compo- nent of clinical intervention with clients diagnosed with eating disorders. Second, the clinician may refer clients to OA groups, contact clients with known OA members within the community, or establish a support group for clients.
Another noticeable experience of OA members is their sense of guilt and shame. The members describe how those feelings decreased their low self-esteem even further, pushing them deeper into irregular eating. Clinicians may follow a similar line and adopt this pragmatic perception of the disease. When clients learn that they are suffering from an addiction disease for which they are not responsible, they are able to assume responsibility for their recovery.
Such a perception is likely to release psychological energy that assists the recovery process. Since this language of therapy is acquired from the life experience of OA members, clients find it easy to adopt, which enhances their motivation for recovery: Clients in recovery, similarly to OA members, may be directed to realize their limitations and to give up attempts to control matters beyond their abilities Baugh, ; Kurtz, Again, this release is likely to release psychological energy that bolsters therapy and recovery.
Acknowledging the limitation of self has a direct effect on self- centeredness, which is at the heart of every addiction disease Ronel, This was also experienced by OA members. Members maintain that recovery should meet the challenge posed by self-centeredness, and therapy may be conducted along similar lines. Clinicians may conduct a recovery program with components that address and reduce an attitude of self-centeredness. In the past few years, a growing body of clinical literature on spiritually-based therapy has been published e.
It might be possible to adapt that ideology of treatment to working with eating disorders, and the reported experience of OA members suggests its suit- ability for this population. Van Wormer claims that teaching people that they are powerless over addiction is liable to encourage passivity and prevent them from developing coping tools, and that this is especially true of women who have suffered oppression, distress, and self-hatred.
In the present research, we found no reinforcement for the feminist cri- tique. In opposition to the feminist claims, OA members in Israel do not S see avoiding compulsive eating as a burden, nor as another humiliation S N added to those they suffered in the past. Furthermore, perceiving themselves as powerlessness did not encourage them to be passive, but to assume personal responsibility proactively.
To sum up, the present study of OA reveals a phenomenological perception of various eating disorders and of pragmatic options for recover- ing from them. Changes in worldview are likely to provide a useful therapeutic component in such practices. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York: AA World Service Office. Alcoholics Anonymous Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Antze, P. Role of ideologies in peer psychotherapy groups. Borman Eds. Origins, Members, Processes, And Impact.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. Bateson, G. A Theory of Alcoholism. Psychiatry, 34 2 , 1— Baugh, J.
Gaining Control by Giving Up Control. Martin eds.
Newbury Park, CA: Borkman, T. Experiential, professional and lay frame of reference. Powel ed. Silver Spring, MD: NASW, pp. Participatory action research as a strategy for study- ing self-help groups internationally. Lavoie, T. Gidron eds. International and Multicultural Perspectives. The Haworth Press, pp. Bruyn, S. The Human Perspective in Sociology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall, pp.
Denzin, N. On Understanding Emotions. Gartner, A. Self-Help in the Human Services. Gidron, B. Universal and particular attributes of self-help: Giorgi, A. Convergence and divergence of qualitative and quantitative methods in psychology.
Giorgi, C. Murray eds.
Duquesne University Press, pp. Goldner, V. Overeaters Anonymous. Riessman eds. Human Sciences Press, pp. OA members share an abnormal relationship with food. They also share numerous failed attempts to overcome this problem Russell-Mayhew et al.
Moreover, overeating, restraint, fasting and purging are perceived as both chronic compulsions despite their negative consequences and relapsing disorders 1.
Therefore, eating disorders may be common amongst OA members von Ranson et al. Pharmacological interventions, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy CBT , interpersonal and other non-specific supportive therapies are the most recommended treatments for individuals with eating disorders Linardon et al.
OA has applied the addictive-like eating framework for decades to help members achieve recovery. According to the step program any eating-related problem is regarded as a physical, emotional, and spiritual disorder Hertz et al. Finally, it has been observed that attendance at meetings and the use of other tools in individuals with addictive-like eating behaviors show some benefits Malenbaum et al.
The current article aims to examine the core concepts of OA fellowship and its implication in clinical practice to support an ongoing recovery from perceived food addiction. Addiction recovery According to White addiction recovery is the experience through which individuals use both internal and external resources to solve problems inflicted by their addiction.
This statement includes, managing their continued vulnerability to such problems, and developing a healthy, productive and meaningful life. Recovery tools An interesting qualitative analysis regarding how OA helps its members divided OA tools into two main categories Russell-Mayhew et al.CSOW 31 2 Gaining Control by Giving Up Control. Thousand Oaks, CA: In the present research, we found no reinforcement for the feminist cri- tique. Includes space for local group information.
That is, in the current research, we know more about how OA members currently under- stand their previous situation than we do about the facts of their situation.