Anorexia also affects women over 40

Why are we talking so little about adults with anorexia? Perhaps because they put themselves at less risk than teens, their illness is more moderate and more socially acceptable. Yet these women need to be listened to. And neat.

Ariane Bois

It's a community we do not really talk about: adult anorexics, which doctors call "late". Discrete, almost invisible, they are nevertheless seen in the sports clubs they frequent, the children's boutiques where they dress and even in the magazine's people pages. "I get it every week, confirms Vannina Micheli -Rechtman, psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and responsible for a consultation on eating disorders, but we talk a lot less about it than girls, maybe because their anorexia is often moderate, more socially acceptable. put less danger and end up in the hospital. " How many adult anorexics are there in France? It's hard to say because there are few epidemiological data, says Philip Gorwood, a professor of psychiatry and head of the Mental Illness and Brain Clinic at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris. Anorexia affects 0, 4% of French women, and I would say that 10% of them are adults.If this disease is very old, with clinical descriptions dating back to the first century AD, the current valuation of the thinness, the social pressure, he assures, that it now affects all circles. " For example, a recent study by University College London shows that 3.6% of English quadras and fifties have eating disorders, including anorexia.

Anorexia, an inner enemy who settles early ...

Some suffer from this strange illness from a very young age. Valérie, 49, only gives herself a yogurt at night since her high school years. She knows she is hurting but can not change. "Part of me, she says, realistic, is happy at my age to continue to enter my jeans size 34! For Alain Meunier, a psychiatrist and founder twenty years ago of La Note bleue, a multi-disciplinary care center in Paris, "the inner enemy settles early and they can do nothing but starve. always acts of the symptom of an underground pain ". Pathology of refusal, adult anorexia remains a disease of adolescence, says Alain Meunier, even at age 40. "Whether they are 17 or 47 years old, anorexics suffer from a lack of self-esteem, which they hope fill with perfectionism without fault, a hand put on their needs and desires."Anorexia then appears as both their best friend and the enemy number one." I call her "my angel", testifies Violaine, 47 years old. When I see others stuffing themselves or cooking for my family, I feel stronger, more free. There is a real pleasure to lose weight, to remain in permanent control when so many complain of their weight without being able to act. Not easy at my age to give up this feeling of superiority. "But it is obviously also a prison, of which they are at the same time prisoners and jailers.The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Didier Lauru, author of the Weight of the body in adolescence (Albin Michel), explains: "In these women, the refusal to eat frequently goes hand in hand with hyperactivity, a practice of excessive sport that allow food obsessive thoughts of s' remove. They arrive at home often exhausted but, unlike teens, they are not in denial, they know their disease very well, we can even say that the affected quadras are pros of their syndrome. "

... or who after an injury

For others, anorexia is triggered after a test, a traumatic event According to Didier Lauru, it can be the brutal loss of a parent, that of the mother in particular , a separation, a financial difficulty that plunges.When again, the notion of control is essential. During our divorce, explains Violaine, today cured, my husband has trained the children against me. The rage I felt, I returned: I avenged myself on my body starving. I weighed myself a hundred times a day, and every morning I ran for two hours until I collapsed. The others might have taken offense (a kid refusing all food would have been sick, at my age, I was only doing a whim), it was the only means I found to scream my pain. "

Take back the hand on what hurts

The quarantine also marks a particular stage in a woman's life, that of the end of fertility, experienced by some as a mourning of seduction. " The myth of eternal youth is never far in those who fight against time, the extra pounds, synonymous with age, "said Didier Lauru Violaine gets carried away:" Look at the people, Laeticia Hallyday at Victoria Beckham, we incense their silhouettes without thinking of the hardships endured! The zeitgeist is to the anorexics who camouflage their situation and stick to the aesthetic ideals of the moment. "

Access to anorexia in mature women often hides an already complicated relationship with younger food. Even in those of recent date, ensures Didier Lauru, when one searches, one often finds not diagnosed crises, phases of restriction in adolescence. The return of these symptoms echoes something old, badly tuned. "If the causes are always multifactorial, he adds, sometimes it is a problem with the mother who, even after all these years , has not been resolved.

In adolescence and later, anorexia remains a disease of the link, a way to regain control of what hurts. In his book With our teens, dare to be parents! (Bayard), Marie Rose Moro, child psychiatrist and director of the Maison de Solenn, tells of receiving (and it is new) mother-daughter pairs, both anorexic. A phenomenon of mimicry of the young towards the adult, but undoubtedly also, for the latter, a mirrored way of becoming a girl again, of returning to childhood and the time when one was formless. " Solenn House, we are working on the position of parents, on the echo of adolescence to understand what happened, with family therapy to put everyone back in their place. "

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