Some people don’t care what others think about them. They live their lives serene and self-assured. Nothing seems to touch them.
For others, it’s not so easy. Social expectations, peer pressure and media indoctrination often burden us with unrealistic self-expectations. These factors can bring us to a point where we feel we aren’t good enough, throwing us into a destructive vicious cycle.
Statistics (ANAD, 2015) show a terrifying picture:
If 44% are of normal weight, 56% fall outside the “normal weight” category. So why are 83% dieting for weight loss? Why are 58% feeling pressured to be a certain weight?
A clinical study (Kenny, Solyom, 1971) published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, deals with the case of a 22-year-old woman who had been suffering from compulsive vomiting for 8 years.
The disorder started when she was just 14 years old. Concerned about being “plump” and gaining weight, she started inducing vomiting by gagging after large meals.
At first she considered the experience “pleasurable”. However, as the frequency of her vomiting increased to once a week, she realized her behavior was unhealthy and became concerned.
Despite her efforts not to vomit, the episodes actually increased in frequency. Instead of just after heavy meals, she was now vomiting after most meals and snacks.
By the time she sought treatment, she was vomiting an average of three times a day and this had taken a heavy toll on her job, health and overall life.
During the treatment sessions, the young woman was asked to visualize the compulsive process over eight steps, starting with the consumption of a large meal and ending with vomiting.
Once the woman had successfully visualized the step, she would signal the therapist who would send an unpleasant electric jolt to her middle finger.
As the sessions progressed, she found it increasingly harder to visualize each step. She also felt less compelled to vomit.
Finally, after 15 sessions she was asked to try her best to stop completely. She found it was easy to stop.
Furthermore, after three months of follow-up, the compulsive vomiting had not returned, and the woman felt confident in her ability to regulate her eating behavior.
The clinical study mentioned above is just one of many such studies spanning 80+ years of research into what is called Aversion Conditioning. It consists of using unpleasant electric stimulation to treat cases of compulsive behavior such as scratching, hand washing and hair pulling.
Humanity is plagued by a big bad list of habits, but these electric jolts could very well be the key to ridding us of these parasites.
ANAD. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from https://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/
Kenny, F. T., & Solyom, L. (1971). The treatment of compulsive vomiting through faradic disruption of mental images. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 105(10), 1071.
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Habits, Technology & Behavioral Change