Book Review - Eight Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin, Gwen Schubert Grabb, & Babette Rothschild

Posted 24th of January 2024 by Alistair Thain

Eight Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder is a self-help style book which supports the readers to help themselves with their eating disorder, both in understanding and breaking free from it. In my opinion, the most important factor in choosing a self-help book is that the authors not only have a professional understanding of the subject but also personal experience of the subject. In Eight Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder, both the authors work in the treatment of eating disorders and have lived through their own struggles with eating disorders.

Both the authors, Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb, talk about their own experiences, struggles, and changes throughout the book. These lived experiences came across well in their writing, as they do not pretend that the journey will be an easy one, nor will it be a journey without mistakes and struggles. They are not afraid to share their successes and their struggles, which helps the reader to not feel alone in their journey. This honest and open way of writing is what made such a difficult and complex subject engaging and enjoyable to read.

The self-help aspect of this book is achieved through psycho-education, the process of giving the reader the information about why certain actions help or not, without the reader needing to simply take the author's word for it, and written assignments. Both of these are designed to have the reader reflect and understand their eating disorder to best support change.

I do feel that the authors could have included information around the overlap between Neurodivergence and eating disorders, as in a few places in the book I could not help but think that what they were asking would be hard or impossible for some people under the Neurodivergent umbrella. This could be due to the age of the book and I feel that the authors do a good job of supporting the reader to seek outside help rather than struggle alone with any given aspect of the book.

Another key aspect of self-help books in my eyes is how the reader feels reading it. Personally, I want a self-help book that supports the reader with the subject at hand and not one that feels like it is telling the reader what they ought to be doing, or lecturing the reader on how to “fix” themselves. I feel that Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb managed to achieve this in such a beautiful way, as I read the book I felt how I imagine their clients feel in their sessions - informed and supported.

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