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through the other Steps, discovering that each in turn gives new opportunities for growth in our understanding and in the stability of our lives. But all this individual experience would be nothing more than a passing curiosity if it were not supported by the experience of others. The fact that something works for me is of no great relevance - but the fact that it works for millions of people is highly relevant, particularly when they come from diverse backgrounds. However much universities and medical schools may try to ignore Twelve Step ideas, the observable fact is that they work in practice, as literally millions of people have discovered for themselves.

As far as recovery from eating disorders is concerned, the end results are observable in many people, despite the confusion over the definition of abstinence. In fact this confusion is in line with the basic Fellowship principle of not making rules for other people. We each have our own journey and we each make our own discoveries. Nonetheless it is helpful to see the effects of other people's journeys and it was this that persuaded me to establish the principles of abstinence adopted by PROMIS. I saw people who were doing well and people who were not doing so well and I looked to see what they had in common or what divided them. I would suggest that other people do exactly the same: don't take my word but look to see whether the quality of someone else's life is something that you yourself would want. If that person appears to be happy and to have good personal and professional relationships, is kind and considerate and free from food obsession, then it is worth following his or her ideas on abstinence. If, on the other hand, he or she is full of self-pity and blame, still talking about the abuse and abandonment of childhood and still obsessed in one way or another with food, then I, for one, would not wish to follow that person's ideas on abstinence. What matters to me is what works in practice and what provides the sort of life that I want for myself in future.

I can speak from the professional experience of treating over a thousand inpatients at PROMIS for their eating disorders but I think it would be more helpful if I were to speak now solely from my own personal experience of having an eating disorder. I have had to be prepared to put my ideas into practice in my own life. Not only that, I risk my future professional security by employing former patients. I wonder how many other treatment directors in psychological or psychiatric treatment programmes are prepared to do that.

For myself, my weight no longer varies appreciably whereas previously it used to vary up and down within a range of 50 lbs once or even twice a year. I was forever on diets and forever beating myself up because of their failure. I was at war with my tailor because my suits would never fit between successive appointments for measurement. I kept different sizes of shirt in my wardrobe. I once lost thirty pounds i n weight in three weeks and believed it to be a triumph. My secretary told me that patients thought I must have a dreadful illness. They were right: an eating disorder is a dreadful illness and it has a high morbidity and mortality rate. On another occasion our other secretary complained that I had eaten her lunch - I was helping

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