What does recovery mean? In an article in the NY Times, Dr. Suzanne Dooley-Hash asks this question. She became anorexic when she was 15. Now at 45, she isn’t sure if she can accurately describe what recovery means.
In various classes I have taken, I have learned that a person’s level of functionality should be taken into account when determining if there is a problem present. Is that acceptable and accurate? I don’t believe so. Dr. Dooley-Hash states, “I’m a physician at a really high-powered institution, and I’ve published in well-respected journals — I’m functional. I don’t think functionality is necessarily a good measure.”
There is some disagreement among medical professionals what recovery essentially means. As far as anorexia is concerned, medical professions tend to agree that a third of anorexics will remain chronically ill, a third will die of their disorder, and a third will “recover,” whatever it is that that means.
The article states that when looking at research concerning recovery in anorexia, how recovery is defined needs to be taken into account and weighted accordingly. For example, if a patient reaches their normal weight and begins menstruating again, most studies would consider her to be recovered. However other studies examine habits (daily weighing self, calorie counting, etc.) would have a different opinion.
I believe that many mental disorders that we will face will have an unclear line between normality and illness. Honestly, that scares me. I prefer things that are black and white, cut and dry. Unfortunately, even though the DSM-IV looks like a series of checklists, isn’t quite that simple. Being normal and abnormal can mean different things to different people in different situations.