Eating Disorders and Emotions: Inside Out

Eating Disorders and Emotions: Inside Out

Eating Disorders and Emotions: Inside Out

I’d like to introduce you to Emily Johnson, who is a Registered Psychotherapist and an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician. Emily completed her internship and continued to work under my supervision for several years, at my previous office location in Denver, Colorado. She is a knowledgeable and compassionate clinician, who is also a big movie fan.
– Dr. Dorie

Movies can be a great way to add context to things that we are going through – like eating disorders and emotions. The journeys of characters can help us gain different perspectives on our situations. To illustrate how we can navigate through the complexities of eating disorders and emotions, the movie Inside Out by Disney’s Pixar offers a wonderful roadmap.

Inside Out is a great story about a young girl and an emotional journey. It combines elements of the hero’s journey with important emotional truths about the human experience. For those struggling with eating disorders and emotions, this movie can be a great analogy for the interplay of our primary emotions, and how to allow our emotions to come into balance. All of our emotions have a purpose, and while some may be uncomfortable, it is learning how to feel all of our feelings that complete recovery from eating disorders is possible.

Without giving too much of the storyline away, Inside Out shows how we need all of our emotions, and that when we favor one, it can squelch important experiences. The main character, Riley, is shown in her stages of developing memories and personality. One of her dominant emotions strives to keep in control of all experiences in order to make Riley happy. Putting on a happy face even when we are feeling sad or angry or afraid is a common experience for many people. However, we were born with the ability to experience a range of emotions for a reason. They color our memories and contribute to the complexity of who we are.

When it comes to struggling with eating disorders and emotions, we may be searching for a way to feel a positive emotion at the price of another emotion that needs to be acknowledged. In the movie, there is a command center in the mind, and one emotion in particular assumes charge over it. But this keeps other emotions from getting in their say. The more we try to bury that other feeling, the more it tries to get into our consciousness. With eating disorders, we might use binge eating, purging or restrictive eating as a way to bury feelings we don’t like. But as illustrated in the movie, those uncomfortable emotions are the key to our wholeness – and to eating disorder recovery.

Inside Out illustrates that not all experiences and memories are black and white. Life is not all happy nor all sad, all angry nor all fear. The richness of life taps into all of our emotions, like colors of a rainbow. Joy can come from sadness. Anger can come from fear. And when we are honest about our emotional experience, we allow ourselves to experience things in a more richly colorful way – and even deepen our connections with others through our authentic and vulnerable emotional expression.


Looking for guidance with emotions? EMILY JOHNSON, MA (the author of this blog article) is an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician, and is currently employed by an eating disorder treatment center. Although she does not work with clients unless they are patients at the center, Dr. Dorie is available to meet 1-on-1 with clients to explore emotions.

Interested in a FREE consultation with Dr. Dorie? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions.  She provides customized counseling for eating disorders and alcohol / drug addiction at her Positive Pathways treatment center in Evergreen, Colorado – and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975EMAIL DR. DORIE – GET CERTIFIED