They would love to be perfect mothers. Instead, they feel ashamed and inadequate, and fearful that their children might inherit their eating difficulties.
Imagine an ordinary Norwegian home, where Mum is having dinner with her three-year-old son. Underneath the surface of this seemingly idyllic scene, the woman is fighting a fierce battle with herself, thinking: "I wish he could finish eating, so I can go to the bathroom and throw up."
This is just one of many real-life stories Kristine Rrtveit has listened to while working on her thesis.
Employed at Stavanger District Psychiatric Centre, she spends most of her time doing research for her PhD at the University of Stavanger. Listening to her informants' stories has given her insight into their everyday struggles.
Keeping up appearances
"Eating difficulties, such as extreme dieting, compulsive overeating, and vomiting, are usually kept under the surface. Keeping up appearances, even in one's own home, requires a lot of strength," Rrtveit says.
Some of the sufferers have children, which creates additional problems. Mothers often dread meal times, even though they are aware of their importance to the children's upbringing.
"One of the women I interviewed said every meal the family was having together, felt like standing on the edge of a cliff. These are grown-up women who themselves believe that what they do is wrong," she says.
Lack of motivation
According to the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, between 0.2 and 0.4 per cent of the population is affected by anorexia nervosa, and 1-2 percent by bulimia nervosa. The majority of sufferers are women between the ages of 15 and 40.
Only 30 percent of anorectics and less than six percent of bulimics receive treatment for their condition, the Board has found. Researchers attribute this to a lack of motivation to undergo therapy. But feelings of guilt and shame may al
|Contact: Leiv Gunnar Lie|
University of Stavanger