This chapter explores parts or ego states somewhere in the middle of the two that are invested in one or the other form of eating disorder (ED). “Ego state” and “part” are used interchangeably in this chapter. The chapter provides a short neurological explanation of ego states, their purpose, and the difference between dysfunctional and dissociated ego states. It provides an overview of various traditions of parts, which, although not exhaustive, can uncover the common and universal characteristics of ego state work. EDs are very difficult to treat in that they demand attention on so many levels: psychological, emotional, physical, behavioral. The authors believe that it is the reality of dissociation that makes this work all the more difficult, a reality that demands an invitation to all parts of our client to come together and collaborate in the service of healing.
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Eating disorders (EDs) are common chronic illnesses that most clinicians, regardless of specialty, will encounter at some point, and trauma is universal in those who have EDs. Trauma from physical and/or psychological injuries overwhelms the mind and body’s capacity to adapt, and can set off or perpetuate an already present ED. The nutritional support of an individual who struggles with an ED and is a trauma survivor can be one of the most challenging tasks a dietitian encounters. One of the most accurate ways to assess the nutritional status of the body is to do two types of tests: metabolic testing and body composition analysis. Physicians, dietitians, and nutritionists who treat EDs will be treating trauma. Physicians, specifically, have a critical role in diagnosing and treating EDs. Medical caregivers need to let the patients know that they will stay the course and support them for as long as it takes.