This week I watched the episode of true life on “I’m drunkorexic”. It followed two people DJ and Laura who suffer from drunkorexia. It’s a sickness where individuals are anorexic and want to lose weight but also suffer from alcohol dependency leading to them constantly consume very little food in order to be able to consume more alcohol.
The narrative used in the episode would be more related to the “chaos narrative” with some aspects from the “quest narrative”. It has to do with the “chaos narrative because both individuals understand their problem they recognize the severity of the illness but are unable to stop it, they see the destructive nature it holds on them and their loved ones but are unable to stop because they want an “ideal” body image. Yet it comes at a great cost to their health which feeds to their weight and enhances the illness. At first there is no end to this abusive cycle because the more they drink (and less they eat) the more weight they gain (and feel unhappy); the more weight they gain the more alcohol they drink. It’s a spiraling down momentum of insecurity and despair for both individuals. It relates to the “quest narrative” because this whole idea of their drunkorexia originated as a plan to shed some weight, they had the plan of reaching a goal weight. For example DJ’s goal was to reach 120lbs. (which he never accomplished) but if he had reached that goal would the illness gone away? They use the narratives to explain to their loved ones their point of view i.e. their goals, insecurities, guilt and shame. They try to explain their goals but everyone just sees the alcohol dependences and problems but offer no solutions and allow for the behavior to go on for some time.
Culturally we live in a society where we praise those who are thin and “healthy”. Both wanted to have an ideal body image and for them to be also dependent on alcohol led to their anorexia because they would rather give up food than alcohol to achieve said body. Although socially it is not acceptable for someone to be intoxicated mid-day they would drink at all times of the day, which led to a stigma from friends and family members and they did not want associate with the individuals. Although DJ’s dependency originated from constant drinking when going out with friends and wanted to be known as the “party guy”.
The only one shown actually going to the doctor was DJ and he went because he was afraid that something was wrong because for 5 days he could not keep any food down and feared for the worst. Although they never showed the doctors diagnoses they showed the doctor telling DJ that he cannot continue his actions or else his health will be permanently affected.
In order to assume the role for this illness they have to constantly and strictly monitor what they eat but loosely measure what they drink (alcohol). They are Constantly weighing themselves to see if any progress had been made and ensure that they have a steady supply of alcohol in their homes.
The narratives allow for the sick individual to vent out their emotions and feeling. To give those around them of the anguish that they feel, although at many times many people might not want to listen or feel like they are just tying to victimized themselves. Regardless it’s important to use these narratives for a basic communication to healthcare professionals, friends and family because it gives the patient closure. Such as Laura’s narrative when she goes to AA meetings for her drinking, it helps the individual gain a grasp with reality hearing others speak of their narratives as well.
-Department of Anthropology. “Medical Anthropology Illness Narratives.” Michigan State University. week 4 online lecture 2. Viewed July 23, 2014.
-True Life. “I’m Drunkorexic.” MTV. Posted April 5, 2014. Viewed July 24, 2014. [link]: http://www.mtv.com/shows/truelife/true-life-im-drunkorexic/1719945/playlist/#id=1719945