The answer is no one. Current science tells us that Eating disorders are biologically based, influenced by numerous complex environmental factors coming together as they did for me to create a perfect storm of anorexia and bulimia that lasted twenty-seven years.
For many years however, it was a blame game for me. I blamed my mother for the harsh, fat shaming and other belittling words she inflicted at an already programmed, middle child syndrome personality looking for acceptance as the all self-defining persona. Acceptance from my mother. Acceptance from the kids who bullied me over my weight. Acceptance from the high school girls who I wanted to badly to connect with and go to the prom. Go on a date. Hold a hand. Get that first kiss.
When none of that happened, and I descended into eating disorders, addiction and suicidal thoughts, blame was the other easy self-medication. As I moved into recovery and slowly became self-aware of where I was and how I got there, it no longer became about blame. It became about forgiveness. When It became about education and awareness, it was clear that parents, bullies and the girls who rejected me were not the cause. It was about the tornado combination of already programmed genetic and psychological predispositions plus environment. Which one is more important than the other? We still don’t know that. A reason I recently participated in a genetic study that will explore this issue. Hopefully one day, science will identify a gene that will without question tell us who is pre-disposed to eating disorders.
Will that eliminate environmental factors? Of course not. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards treating those suffering and also determining how influential a pre-disposition is absent all other environmental factors. Until that time, it is important to maintain a balanced approach to education and awareness. Blaming home environment is not the answer. The most freeing and profound moment in my eating disorder recovery was when I stopped blaming. Denying that home environment however could be a factor in my disorders in order to deflect emotional guilt and blame is also not the answer. Acknowledging that environment matters is not blame. It understanding. Truth and truth will educate and change views. It’s not a blame game. It’s not a game at all. It’s a deadly situation. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness. Let’s stay balanced on facts and science when we educate. That will raise awareness. That will help save lives.
Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction. Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and empowering adults and teens to turn their worst moments into their greatest achievement.