A woman in her late teens shuttled between two hospitals, being treated for anorexia. When she was brought physically in shape, she would be sent back to the mental hospital on the other side of the city. As there was no coordination of treatment between the two, her condition was managed rather than treated, until she died of it. Perhaps with my life and eating being controlled by doctors, I would lose the will to live.

Anorexia is a coping strategy. Often, people with anorexia will have other strategies, such as cutting- “cutting” is the word used by many who have that coping strategy, “self-harm” is the word imposed by outsiders classifying them. If their cutting is treated too intrusively, they may reduce it, and turn to eating control instead. Anything for a quiet life. It is necessary to deal with the underlying issues, rather than the coping strategies which are symptoms of them.

If I want to avoid certain foods because of ethical concerns, or for my own ideas about my own health, that is my concern. “Orthorexia” is a word coined by doctors to describe such behaviour, implying that it is an eating disorder characterised by a harmfully rigid adherence to particular dietary rules. It may be linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, they say.

Honestly, doctors butting in all the time. These are ordinary coping strategies. Everyone is a little nuts, and it is as if these busybody doctors think alcohol was created for making sterilising wipes.

Synaesthesia is a condition where the senses affect each other. So particular sounds may cause someone to see colours, or words may appear coloured. Olivier Messiaen had the condition, and used it in his music, such as Colours of the Celestial City. While it is not “normal” in the sense that only a small proportion of the population have it, and arguably it is slightly maladaptive, as it is an additional way of perceiving the World as other than it is, people with the condition generally are quite happy with it, so doctors can back off. No cure needed here, thank you.

Transsexuality is a natural variation of the child in the womb, through which girls are born with testicles, and boys with ovaries. While it might please certain people with overly tidy minds to convince those boys that they really were girls, and their ovaries were the most important thing for deciding that, from the inside it feels like who I really am, my identity, is the most important thing. I am female. I would be less “cured” if I was made happy presenting male, because then I would not be me.

So again, I think that the American Psychiatric Association, about to publish its fifth edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, can butt out. I am not mentally ill. Perhaps DSM 5 could include a diagnosis of psychotic pseudo-transsexuality, where there was a psychosis producing a delusion of transsexuality- but I am female, and my disorder was entirely physical. It was alleviated by genital correction surgery. I am not sure I particularly want screened against mental illness: I think the strain of transsexuality on a child might cause mental illness, rather than the other way round. I resent gender dysphoria being included in a manual of mental disorders, where it has no place.

5 thoughts on “Orthorexia

  1. Hello Ms. Clare,

    Wow! I really enjoyed this post of yours. It was very honest and informative. Why is it that those that hold degrees with letters preceding them always attempt to label things or try and fix things that aren’t broken. Because I’m a lesbian, there must be something wrong with me, for I should not feel the way in which everyone says I should. It’s amazing to me how easily forgotten that once upon a time people were able to be themselves no questions asked and now there is a psychological or medical term bestow upon almost ever subject in the world.



  2. I commented here and my computer erased it, I think, so if I repeat myself please delete the last one. Anyway, I said that I missed this post because I had been reading your blog on my phone, but I am glad I found it now because I can relate! In my life so far I have been labeled: anorexic, orthorexic, drunkorexic, alcoholic. I have been “diagnosed” with social anxiety disorder, social avoidance disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder. Why am I so disordered? I hate labels. Sigh…


    • Social Anxiety Disorder is doctors pathologising a natural human reaction to bad experiences. You will get over the bad experiences, because healing is what people do. But not by antidepressants to mask the symptoms.


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