Insight, schminsight

As thinking people, we value insight. Naturally, and rightly so, but mental illness can hijack insight to varying degrees and often ingeniously. I'm amazed at the tremendously insightful messages from current eating disorder patients asking "what should I do?" They have, of course, already described exactly what they need to do and why - and how - but the insight is without the power to act. Action is the way out, but insight doesn't always help - no matter how hard we try. Eating disorder patients are often the most thoughtful, insightful, thinking thinking thinking people in the room - but it's like telekinesis: all the brain power there to be mustered doesn't have the hands to move objects.

Insight DOES matter, but it isn't a failure of insight to need to outsource the doing and even the decision-making for a while - or even permanently.

Carrie describes it well when she says This post will be very insightful.

Ashley explores it well, too, when she says Is insight really important in changing our behavior?

Neither are saying that insight isn't important and necessary. It's really more about timing. The insight of a well-functioning person is that of a person free to think independently - in a quieter and more reflective space. That space is what people like me are wishing for our loved ones when we talk about 'anosognosia' and 'life without ED.' It is not an insult or patronizing any more than "you look pale - should we check your blood sugar?" or "that mole needs checking."

As much as we value insight, and should, if it is known to be hijacked then we have a responsibility to help get the person, the full and free person, back in control.


  1. You are on a blogging role, Laura. Yes, with EDs, "the insight is without the power to act." My young adult D has enormous amounts of insight. Too bad it doesn't touch the illness inside of her.

  2. Insight can be very helpful but Words need to be backed with action and behavioral change as it can otherwise be immobilizing. Individuals under the influence of ED often come across With apparent competence meaning present as if in a better place than they are leading providers and loved ones to mistakenly believe that they don't need more support. They are bright, competent, capable and intelligent. Yet when it comes to issues relating to weight, feeding themselves, health re to this illness they desperately need their providers and loved ones to take charge. Due to anosognosia they're unable to make the most effective decisions even when they want to believe that they want to be well until fully nutritionally and weight restored!


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