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To The Bone | Movie Analysis

Our main character in the movie is an anorexia patient. Anorexia is a perceptual eating disorder related to one's own body. Although the number on the scale is much lower than the body weight of a normal individual, the individual does not see himself/herself as thin enough when he/she looks in the mirror and therefore continues to heavy diets and heavy sports. This condition can lead to death and treatment is essential. The message to be conveyed in the movie is as follows; Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses with the highest mortality rate from any psychiatric illness. In the movie, the extreme weakness of the main character is noticed by her family and people around her and intervened. She is taken to the doctor for some tests and ​medication is started, but the girl does not want to accept that her condition is bad and resists the treatments. On the other hand, the girl is in the most serious dimension of anorexia, and if her perception of her weight does not improve and she does not start eating, there is a high probability that she will die with very serious health problems. Especially since her sister is very upset about this situation, her family sends her (Ellen) to a group home. There are individuals in this house who have eating disorders just like Ellen, and they are all in the process of treatment. Ellen is a very shy and introverted girl. It seems clearly that Ellen is suffering from pain, she does not reach the normal developmental milestones for her peers, lacks intimate relationships, and feels very bad for stressing her family. The problems related to her family caused her to take her problems deep into herself and perhaps for this reason, she turned to her own body as a solution and changed her eating habits from the beginning. Even the thought of eating is nauseating for her, and at night she prefers to exercise rather than sleep. In my opinion, one of the reasons why treatments fail all the time is because Ellen hasn't been able to make friends. I think, there are trust problems under this. Her father's marriage to another woman and her cold relationship with her mother caused Ellen to have difficulty in communicating with other people. For this reason, when she came to the group house, it was very difficult at first to live with other people in the same house and to open up to them. However, as she expanded her own borders and walls, and started to trust someone and open herself, her reasons for healing increased and she started to take steps in the treatment. The important role in resolving her trust problems and finding hope for recovery for the first time is her therapist (Dr. Beckham). Although he sometimes clashed with Ellen, he never gave up on attempts to communicate with her and always encouraged Ellen to get out of the pit of her being anxiety, being depresseed and not being able to make peace with herself. In clinical treatment processes, the bond with the patient progresses slowly and it is not always easy to gain the patient's trust. It is very important to be able to establish a therapeutic relationship and to have the patient trust the therapist and dedicate herselff to the treatment. In the movie, the patient-doctor relationship was slowly worked out and they explained the development of the relationship between them. One thing I can criticize abouth the doctor is that he clashes with Ellen too much at some points and at the end he makes statements such as "if you are not interested in living, I will not treat you". Maybe she is making such statements to increase the motivation of the patient about life, but Ellen is a girl who has a hard time accepting criticism from her environment. She is also someone who is not used to receiving attention and love from people and can hold on to life if she gets enough of a little love. For this reason, I think it would be more effective to find reasons worth living by showing her other aspects of life, rather than making threats to increase her motivation about life. Considering Ellen's relationships with other people in the movie, in fact, like most individuals with eating disorders, Ellen mostly seeks solitude and isolation. Most of the other patients in the movie are very close with each other and their communication is strong. In addition, they are open to treatment and willing to confront. I think that's how it's shown in the movie to highlight Ellen's stubbornness. Because in real life, patients with eating disorders avoid being aware of their disease and respond very difficult to treatment. There is also a boy in the movie who is romantically attracted to Ellen. Although Ellen denied this in the beginnig, she actually began to be attracted to the boy at first sight. I can make a comment here like this; Having a romance between two patients with anorexia nervosa during the first weeks of treatment may be somewhat unrealistic because most young women with anorexia nervosa are wary of intimate relationships at best, rarely jumping into romance, especially with new acquaintances. The following can be said about Ellen's family structure in this process; The concept of the father is completely empty, the father does not exist both physically and spiritually. Her stepmother and her birth mother are involved in the treatment process, but they also see Ellen as a burden in their busy lives and make her feel this a lot. The only person who thinks about Ellen may be her sister. However, this causes Ellen to feel guilty and plus see herself as a burden. This emotional neglect from childhood to adolescence, and the failure to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child, caused serious wounds on Ellen. In one scene, Ellen's birth mother is feeding Ellen with a bottle on her lap. In fact, it shows that this need and the lack of mother-child bonding during infancy, called the oral period, extends into adulthood. Ellen may be showing her thoughts and feelings that she hasn't been able to convey for years as a rebellion by not eating, or she may be revealing all her problems only in this way, and she refuses to eat. Many of the underlying problems with eating and weight problems are relational and attachment related. In this sense, the film also contains good messages about how family systems can affect children. Towards the end of the movie, there is a scene where Ellen sees herself in her most vulnerable state in a different dimension. According to some sources I researched, in most treatment processes, people see the bottom and make a choice between life and death at the bottom. Ellen saw herself on the edge, and eventually everything went green and she chose to hold on to life. This was the scene that impressed me the most in the movie. Perhaps the most important point for treatment is that she has hope to hold on to life despite all the complex emotional conflicts she has been through. And maybe at last her hope that she deserved to live has returned, and she has succeeded in seeing herself not just as a pile of bones but as a whole that can think, feel and deserve to be loved. Büşra Nur Akan | Psychologist

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