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Copyright Web4Health 2003-2008 Stockholm (Sweden), Lüneburg (Germany), Ioannina (Greece), Goes (Netherlands), Rimini (Italy)

The aim of Web4Health is to give good and useful free medical advice, help and self help in the areas of mental health, psychology, personality disorders, relationships, stress, anxiety, depression, emotional abuse, substance abuse, sexual abuse, types of mental illness, etc.

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Self-Esteem, Ego

Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:

First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 11 Aug 2008.


 Am I a good person? Do I like myself? Am I too critical of myself? Why is self-esteem so important? What problems can lack of self-esteem cause? Do I need a stronger ego?


Self-esteem is the capacity to evaluate your resources successfully and positively. It is one of the main weak features of people with eating disorders. Low self-esteem, combined with the inability to identify and react to emotions appropriately (an inability which may also contribute to the forming of low self-esteem) is one of the typical personality traits of patients who suffer from eating disorders.

Note: Also other psychological problems than eating disorders often have low self-esteem as a contributing cause.

People affected by eating disorders are always very critical of themselves and are prone to consider themselves unworthy and unfit at all levels.

They think that the body is the main object of their discontent, perhaps because initially it seems easier to control and modify than other aspects of their personality.

They try to regain or recreate self-esteem and trust in themselves, which they cannot find in other areas, by obsessively controlling their body and their appearance.

Unfortunately, strict dieting and elimination behaviour put into effect in an attempt to control weight at all costs tends to entrap these people in ways, from which they cannot escape.

For this reason, problems linked to low self-esteem must be tackled during the therapy of people with eating disorders.

If you do not help patients to rediscover their self-esteem and also build up a sense of self-trust and a stronger ego, it will not be possible to convince them to give up the obsessive techniques of weight control; even if it might be possible for a short period, they will soon return to their original symptoms.

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