The Secret Language of Eating Disorders


288 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 0-679-30874-1
DDC 616.85'26




Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is the trade, scholarly, and reference editor of the
Canadian Book Review Annual.


In this book, Peggy Claude-Pierre, director and founder of the eating
disorders program at the Victoria-based Montreux Clinic, argues that the
supermodel syndrome, or cult of thinness, is a “possible trigger”
rather than a direct cause of anorexia. In her view, anorexia is a
byproduct or manifestation of confirmed negativity condition (CFC),
which she defines as “the culmination of negative assumptions about
oneself in the caring for and the sense of responsibility for the
world.” According to this perspective, the anorectic is the polar
opposite of a selfish narcissist: she or he is an individual whose
“drive to create perfection for others replaces the natural maturation
of self.” Treatment at the Montreux Clinic is based on a recovery
model that corresponds to the five stages of human development.

The Secret Language of Eating Disorders chronicles the origins of
Claude-Pierre’s work with anorectics (her first patients were her own
two anorexic daughters); debunks myths and misconceptions about
anorexia; examines the battle between the “negative mind” and the
“actual mind” (the central dynamic of CNC); outlines the five stages
of recovery, along with strategies for reversing the negative mind
(providing unconditional love is a mainstay of treatment); and offers
practical advice for parents of anorectics and health professionals.
Artwork and personal accounts by former and current patients are also

Although its long-term effects have yet to be determined, the Montreux
treatment appears to be effecting more sustainable recoveries for those
anorectics who have derived only short-term benefits from traditional
programs. It would be a pity if the recent police and government
investigations of Montreux were to lead to a wholesale rejection of the
clinic’s treatment program in advance of a scientifically based
assessment of its long-term efficacy.

Regardless of the outcomes of the Montreux investigations, this book
offers inspiration to the victims of eating disorders and sensible
advice for those parents and health professionals who are responsible
for their care.


Claude-Pierre, Peggy., “The Secret Language of Eating Disorders,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,