Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anorexia Nervosa Health Center

Font Size

Becoming 'the Best Anorexic Ever'

Battle With Food

'It Becomes a Friend' continued...

"The people I talked to described the early phases of anorexia as being quite seductive," says Warin. "People often don't want to give up their eating disorders. They enter into a relationship with anorexia and it becomes a way of coping. Many sufferers personify it, and even give it a name. It becomes a friend, the enemy in disguise, an abusive lover, someone they can rely on."

Figures suggest that approximately 8 million people in the U.S. have eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, and 7 million of them are women. The overwhelming majority of sufferers develop the disorders in their teens and early 20s.

Eating disorders expert Michael P. Levine, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Kenyon College in Ohio, agrees the sense of identify that often accompanies anorexia frequently complicates treatment. He recalled a poignant interview many years ago with a 19-year-old struggling to recover from the disorder.

"She had never had a menstrual period, she had very few friends, and she spent a lot of time in therapy or alone," he says. "With tears in her eyes, she told me that she struggled every day with anxieties about food. She said she wanted to recover, but it was hard. And she looked me in the eye and said, 'At least when I was anorexic, I was somebody.'"

'The Best Anorexic Ever'

National Eating Disorder Association spokeswoman Holly Hoff says perfectionism and competitiveness are common traits in young women who develop eating disorders.

"There is often a strong, strong drive to be perfect, and even with the eating disorder they want to be perfect," she says. "That is why group treatment settings can be problematic. They may hear things that other people are doing and they may think they are not going as far as they could."

Vivian Hanson Meehan, president of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, agrees.

"Often what happens when you see anorexics in a group is that they start to compete with each other," she says. "They are vying to be the best anorexic ever. But the best anorexics are dead."

Today on WebMD

Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms
two hands together
family in hand
Doctor holding tablet PC talking to patient
Anorexia Nervosa What Happens
Woman at desk looking distracted
watching late noght tv
Distressed young woman with dna background

WebMD Special Sections