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  1. #1
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Default How to Help a Possibly Anorexic ISFJ...

    I would like to ask if anybody, but especially any ISJFs around here, has any insight on how best to speak with my ISFJ mother, who I'm concerned may possibly be an anorexic.

    Her weight is down to 75 lbs., and her immune system is weak, so she is sick a lot and takes a long time to get over it. She needs to take several naps a day due to becoming severely sleep deprived over several months of taking care of my grandmother.

    She believes that she suffers from food allergies. She believes that she cannot eat most foods. This belief is based upon a lifetime of digestive pains and discomforts, plus kinesiology. She has a degree in Oriental medicine and is a practicing acupuncturist and kinesiologist. She is also her own health provider and feels failed by the medical establishment. At one time she saw a round of doctors who could find nothing wrong with her, other than the last, who finally diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome and suggested she see a psychiatrist for possible anorexia. She then began seeing an acupuncturist.

    The acupuncturist she saw used kinesiology to diagnose her problems. Kinesiology works by making the thumb and forefinger into a circuit and then asking questions of the body. The answer to the question is yes or now depending on if the circuit can be broken by pulling apart the thumb and forefinger.

    Ever since seeing this acupuncturist, she is always on the verge of finally "clearing". Clearing food allergies and "cellular memories", that is. But then her symptoms return, and she realizes she is not really "cleared" yet. Then she goes on a more restrictive diet. For a while she has only been eating fish, turkey, rice, wild rice, squash, oatmeal, flax seed and sunflower seeds. She keeps saying that soon she will be able to go on a rotating diet once she builds up her system enough.

    In the nineties, she got down to 75 lbs, and everybody in the family freaked out. Both my father and mother got very defensive in the face of several of my mother's sisters, plus my younger brother, trying (in their view) to force my mother to submit to the treatment and advice of a conventional doctor. My mother's beliefs in her health concepts and practices seem as entrenched as my parents' religious beliefs.

    I can't even call my father up and tell him that I'm worried about my mother and ask for his help, because he'll get defensive and make it all about him. Not only that, but he's an alcoholic. I can't ask my parents to go into therapy. They don't respect or trust anything establishment or conventional.

    To top it all off, to have a debate with my mother about anything is to be worn down by hours of detailed tangents. And she doesn't even have the energy to debate, anyway.

    My husband believes the only way to help my mother is to get through to her by shocking her with something that she will have to pay attention to, such as yelling at her. He thinks the problem is that nobody has ever told her she is crazy, and that's the problem with everybody in my whole family, ha ha.

    I've been trying to help her the gentle way, and it hasn't been working so far. I've tried to buy her food she can eat, such as brown rice protein powder and ground flax seed. I've encouraged her to rest. I've encouraged her to go on the rotating diet that she keeps saying she'll be able to go on soon. She thinks she's almost cleared and that, when she's cleared, she'll be able to eat anything as long is it is no more often than once every four days. But I've been hearing things like this for so long.

    So, any insights on the best way to have an intervention with an ISFJ who appears to be a prisoner of her own self-harming beliefs? Any communication tips?

  2. #2
    Senior Member dnivera's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to hear this. SJs can be very stubborn and set in their ways, even at great personal cost.

    Does your mom have any idea that she's sick? I think the idea of something "shocking" would be useful - but NOT yelling at her. That's not going to accomplish anything, and it might make a stubborn person even more set in her ways. I would suggest something "shocking" in terms of astonishing, like a wake-up-call or intervention to change her perspective and make her realize that she is sick. You could take pictures of her or videotape her during the day informally and show her that she is seriously underweight and doesn't even realize it. As an SJ I am a bit concerned about how other perceive me, and if someone tells me that something's wrong with me I'll take their advice seriously. Or show her pictures of people that look like her, severe anorexics. With a health background your mom seems rational enough to understand the basics of nutrition, but she just needs to break that body image and see *reality*.

    I'm not a professional, though, so please don't take me too seriously. Definitely talk to your friendly local mental health professional if you can.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member nottaprettygal's Avatar
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    I think your husbands advice of yelling and trying to shock her will prove to be ineffective. She's probably likely to get hurt and then retreat further inward.

    If you can't get her to go to therapy on her own, I think the best method is to give her consequences for her actions. Not health consequences or anything like that, but what YOU will do if she continues on this path. This is likely to only be effective if you have a close relationship with her. Anyway, think of the things that you do and share together and threaten to take them away if she doesn't agree to get help.

    "Mom, if you don't agree to go to therapy, then I will no longer do: X, Y, and Z."

    Essentially, you're threatening to remove yourself from her life. It's not about debating with her. Rather, it's a very simple cause and effect statement. Do A, or I'm going to take away B.

    The key part is following through.

    A few years ago, I was forced to do the same to an ESFJ friend of mine. It worked (sort of). She knew that my threats to remove myself from her life were serious. SJs are very loyal to their friends and family, and they really hate to disappoint the people that they are close to.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    Not health consequences or anything like that, but what YOU will do if she continues on this path.
    I think you mean con sequences.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnivera View Post
    Does your mom have any idea that she's sick? I think the idea of something "shocking" would be useful - but NOT yelling at her. That's not going to accomplish anything, and it might make a stubborn person even more set in her ways. I would suggest something "shocking" in terms of astonishing, like a wake-up-call or intervention to change her perspective and make her realize that she is sick. You could take pictures of her or videotape her during the day informally and show her that she is seriously underweight and doesn't even realize it.
    She knows she's severely underweight. But she still believes that it's even worse to eat a food she's allergic to. She thinks if she does that, it will make her digestive system shut down altogether.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SquirrelTao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    I think your husbands advice of yelling and trying to shock her will prove to be ineffective. She's probably likely to get hurt and then retreat further inward.
    I agree. My gut tells me not to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by nottaprettygal View Post
    If you can't get her to go to therapy on her own, I think the best method is to give her consequences for her actions. Not health consequences or anything like that, but what YOU will do if she continues on this path. This is likely to only be effective if you have a close relationship with her. Anyway, think of the things that you do and share together and threaten to take them away if she doesn't agree to get help.
    I'm afraid what would happen then is that she'd be extremely depressed and upset but would still have her same beliefs about her food allergies. She'd think I put her in the position of not only having food allergies and getting thin because of them, but also of being mean to her because of it.

    Thanks for the advice, though.

  7. #7
    `~~Philosoflying~~` SillySapienne's Avatar
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    She's down to 75 lbs. ?!?!?!?

    Oh my, an intervention is most definitely called for.

    A.) Your mother *is* anorexic.

    B.) Your mother can, and most likely, will, die from this disease if she does not seek out professional help.
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  8. #8
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainChick View Post
    She's down to 75 lbs. ?!?!?!?

    Oh my, an intervention is most definitely called for.

    A.) Your mother *is* anorexic.

    B.) Your mother can, and most likely, will, die from this disease if she does not seek out professional help.
    I absolutely agree!

    Anorexia Intervention

  9. #9
    Member hiddengem's Avatar
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    Is there someone whose opinion she really respects that could talk to her for you? A close friend or other family member? If there is, having this person sit down with her one-on-one and sincerely telling her they are concerned about her might help. I agree that yelling will probably not do the trick, but a quite voice might get through.

    Of course, if she does have anorexia nothing short of a medical intervention where she is dragged to a hospital might work. I don't know much about that disease but it looks as if those that have it have such a distorted view of their bodies that it takes a lot of effort to change that.

  10. #10
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    Default Stuck and stubborn in Destructive Action

    Quote Originally Posted by SquirrelTao View Post
    I would like to ask if anybody, but especially any ISJFs around here, has any insight on how best to speak with my ISFJ mother, who I'm concerned may possibly be an anorexic.

    Her weight is down to 75 lbs., and her immune system is weak, so she is sick a lot and takes a long time to get over it. She needs to take several naps a day due to becoming severely sleep deprived over several months of taking care of my grandmother.

    She believes that she suffers from food allergies. She believes that she cannot eat most foods. This belief is based upon a lifetime of digestive pains and discomforts, plus kinesiology. She has a degree in Oriental medicine and is a practicing acupuncturist and kinesiologist. She is also her own health provider and feels failed by the medical establishment. At one time she saw a round of doctors who could find nothing wrong with her, other than the last, who finally diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome and suggested she see a psychiatrist for possible anorexia. She then began seeing an acupuncturist.

    The acupuncturist she saw used kinesiology to diagnose her problems. Kinesiology works by making the thumb and forefinger into a circuit and then asking questions of the body. The answer to the question is yes or now depending on if the circuit can be broken by pulling apart the thumb and forefinger.

    Ever since seeing this acupuncturist, she is always on the verge of finally "clearing". Clearing food allergies and "cellular memories", that is. But then her symptoms return, and she realizes she is not really "cleared" yet. Then she goes on a more restrictive diet. For a while she has only been eating fish, turkey, rice, wild rice, squash, oatmeal, flax seed and sunflower seeds. She keeps saying that soon she will be able to go on a rotating diet once she builds up her system enough.

    In the nineties, she got down to 75 lbs, and everybody in the family freaked out. Both my father and mother got very defensive in the face of several of my mother's sisters, plus my younger brother, trying (in their view) to force my mother to submit to the treatment and advice of a conventional doctor. My mother's beliefs in her health concepts and practices seem as entrenched as my parents' religious beliefs.

    I can't even call my father up and tell him that I'm worried about my mother and ask for his help, because he'll get defensive and make it all about him. Not only that, but he's an alcoholic. I can't ask my parents to go into therapy. They don't respect or trust anything establishment or conventional.

    To top it all off, to have a debate with my mother about anything is to be worn down by hours of detailed tangents. And she doesn't even have the energy to debate, anyway.

    My husband believes the only way to help my mother is to get through to her by shocking her with something that she will have to pay attention to, such as yelling at her. He thinks the problem is that nobody has ever told her she is crazy, and that's the problem with everybody in my whole family, ha ha.

    I've been trying to help her the gentle way, and it hasn't been working so far. I've tried to buy her food she can eat, such as brown rice protein powder and ground flax seed. I've encouraged her to rest. I've encouraged her to go on the rotating diet that she keeps saying she'll be able to go on soon. She thinks she's almost cleared and that, when she's cleared, she'll be able to eat anything as long is it is no more often than once every four days. But I've been hearing things like this for so long.

    So, any insights on the best way to have an intervention with an ISFJ who appears to be a prisoner of her own self-harming beliefs? Any communication tips?
    When she believes her actions are no longer useful she will stop. ISFJ's listen to a dominant other to organize in their own minds what is proper or what they should do. But as their sympathy for weaker others plights is in tact, their ability to empathise by feeling another's feelings is limited or damaged. This leaves an appeal to their feelings ineffective. They live by shame and hide themselves and their actions to avoid scrutiny. They are prey to quacks and guru's who give them behavioral directions as their sense of self identity is primitive and unavailable for self guidance. Sometimes, usually by moving to a different location, they change gurus.

    Are there a few friends she talks with who may exert some influence? Is your father open to intervention? Is he able to see his addiction as harmful? Will he attempt attendance at Alcoholics Annonymous? Are you able to make changes to improve your life? Actions are what are noticed by ISFJs.

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