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In Mentoring, What Would Ed Do?

Ed would stay sick.

Without a doubt.

Ed (for “eating disorder”) is not the least bit interested in getting healthy. So when we hang out with Ed, all day every day, two things happen:

Are we starting to look too much like Ed?

1. We start to look, walk, talk, and act like the company we keep (if you doubt me, just think of those folks who look like their pets)

2. We stay sick

So Ed is NOT a good mentor to choose….at least not if we want to recover.

But Ed is an excellent mentor for how to stay sick…and for how to die.

It strikes me over and over again these days how, if we were diagnosed with leukemia instead of an eating disorder, no one would ask us if we “want” to get better…if we are “ready” to heal….if we are “willing” to take our medication (which in the case of cancer is most often medically-prescribed measured doses of chemotherapy and radiation, and in the case of an eating disorder is medically-prescribed, measured doses of nutrients as found in food).

Our brain-based, bio-psycho-social disease is every bit as deadly as cancer. Yet we allow Ed to convince us to treat it so casually!

Just last week I got an email from a desperate woman. She described her fear of losing her thin body if she chose to recover. This is not the voice of sanity. This is the voice of a misunderstood illness issuing from the mouth of its starving victim.

I got another email a few days ago from a young woman who described in detail how she had lied to her therapist over the course of the last year, and then she asked me if I thought she should let her physician admit her to inpatient treatment.

Now of course I am not a medical professional, and would never presume to tell her what she needs.

But what I DID tell her was that if her disease is still strong enough that every effort she has made on her own to be honest, to try to get better, to save her own life, has not worked, then the definition of insanity is trying the same thing yet again hoping for a better outcome.

So it might be time to try something new.

Who holds the reins in your recovery process?

If Ed is still in charge of our recovery work, and if Ed is unwilling to give up the title of our “mentor,” then it’s time to try something new. It is time to find someone who outranks Ed, and give them the reins for awhile.

We can always hate them later.

But at least we will be alive to choose….and we might just give them a big hug of GRATITUDE instead, as we wave goodbye to Ed.

For good.

Today’s Takeaway: Today, take a few moments to contemplate who you most frequently turn to for recovery advice? Is their advice helpful? How would you rate your own recovery progress – are you getting stronger each day? Are you stalled out? Or do you fall further and further behind? If what you are doing isn’t working, and you have made every effort you can make on your own, think of who you can ask for help who outranks Ed.

In Mentoring, What Would Ed Do?

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2010). In Mentoring, What Would Ed Do?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Dec 2010
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