Food is not the Enemy: The Language of Eating Disorders with Patrick O'Neil

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Food is not the Enemy: The Language of Eating Disorders

4-Week Online Writing Course

July 15 - August 12, 2015


Eating disorders: overeating, binge eating, EDNOS, bulimia, and anorexia are devastating. Not only because of how they affect those of us that suffer from them, but because unlike other “addictions” where the “cure” is abstaining – we, the food addicts, cannot simply just stop eating food. Yet the resulting guilt, shame, body dysmorphia, and toll on personal health are an internal struggle that many of us keep secret.

By openly addressing our eating disorders, our fears, and our self-images, we can navigate the emotional obstacles of our negative internal dialogues and resulting behaviors. Through our writing we will explore every aspect of why and where they originated, while examining society’s obsession with “skinny” and the unreal body types the fashion/advertising industries bombard us with, and investigate what are actual obtainable goals in how we physically view ourselves. This will not be therapy. It is more an honest evaluation of self that will result in writing an in-depth personal essay.


• Participants will be encouraged to honestly write about their own issues concerning eating and food.

• Group discussions will focus on the obsessions and fears that have plagued many of us for most of our lives. We will examine unreal body stereotypes, and what are actual obtainable goals in how we physically view ourselves.

• Writing exercises will help examine our behaviors around our eating disorders, and explore every aspect of why and where they originated.

• Posting our work to the discussions will allow participants the opportunity to engage in divulging our secrets so we can lessen their influence on our present, and ascertain what is reality as opposed to our unhealthy misconceptions.

• Instructor will take the participants through the revision process from a first draft to a well-crafted personal essay.


Week 1: Personal Experiences

Lecture: My personal experience with writing about my eating disorder. Students will complete the first writing assingment. Student introductory discussion.

Week 2: The Body Dysmorphic

Lecture: The Body Dysmorphic: unreal and unhealthy body images. Students will complete the second writing assingment. Discussion on lecture topic.

Week 3: Shame, Guilt, Secrets

Lecture: Emotional effects of shame, guilt, and keeping secrets. Students will complete the third writing assignment. Student discussion on lecture topic.  

Week 4: Healthy Alternatives and Change

Lecture: Support, Healthy Alternatives, and Change. Writing assigment: revision. Student discussion on lecture topic, and the process of revision.

Each week there will be a lecture, a discussion forum, a writing assignment, and optional extra reading material. Instructor will give detailed feedback on the first assignment and works with participant to revise and edit that assignment for a final draft.


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Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books), and the excerpted in part French translation, Hold-Up (13e Note Editions). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including: Juxtapoz,, The Weeklings, Razorcake, Sensitive Skin, Fourteen Hills, and Word Riot. Patrick is an editor for the NYC-to-California-transplant-post-beat-pre-apocalyptic art, writing, and music anthology Sensitive Skin Magazine. And a two time nominee for Best Of The Net. He is a regular contributor to the recovery website AfterPartyMagazine, and has been blogging at Full Blue Moon Dementia for over ten years. Patrick holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, lives in Hollywood, California, and teaches at a local community college. Check out Patrick's web-site for more information and his blog Full Blue Moon Dementia