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confirmed negativity condition

What is Confirmed Negativity Condition?

Confirmed Negativity Condition (C.N.C.) is a term coined by Peggy Claude-Pierre in her book The Secret Language of Eating Disorders. It is used to define the thought processes of those with eating disorders and other psychological conditions.

Claude-Pierre believes that, although a person can have C.N.C. without an eating disorder, all eating disorder sufferers must have C.N.C. According to Claude-Pierre, there are many self-negating manifestations of C.N.C. and these can include depression, agoraphobia, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, or somatic disorders. An eating disorder is one such manifestation, albeit one of greater concern because of high mortality rates associated with eating disorders.

Civil wars in the mind

Sufferers of C.N.C. feel a sense of self-loathing and unworthiness. They have a negative "voice" inside their head who’s sole purpose is to destroy them. With a person who has an eating disorder, the "voice" will often concentrate on their main weakness of food. For example, it might say "You’re fat, you don’t deserve to eat", "You’ll never get better, you’ll only get worse", or "You deserve to die, therefore you don’t deserve to eat."

Claude-Pierre describes this constant battle as being like a civil war in the person’s mind. The "voice" or Negative Mind is totally powerful when the eating disorder symptoms are present. However, the "voice" is louder for some than it is for others. For some people, it is loud and constant, whereas for others it may be like a whisper or a number of whispers that are hard to distinguish.

Voices inside your head


As the C.N.C. develops, the sufferer will start bargaining with their Negative Mind for small favors. The compromise always works out better for the Negative Mind, further tipping the balance of power towards its vicious voice. Some examples of possible bargains include: "If I eat this fruit, I promise to run for five miles tonight", or "If I can eat some food now, I won’t have dinner tonight."

Claude-Pierre describes the Actual Mind as being the individual’s normal self. However, as time goes on, the Negative Mind gradually dominates more and more. The Actual Mind is still present, even in those with severe C.N.C., but is completely controlled by the Negative Mind.
The bargaining that goes on between the Actual Mind and the Negative Mind gradually pushes the Actual Mind to one side and lets the Negative Mind take over. This is because the bargains are always heavily in the Negative Mind’s favor; in a sense, it is being fed, often on a daily basis.

Feelings of unworthiness

Sufferers of C.N.C. feel guilty about not being perfect, that they are not worthy of anybody’s attention and that they are to blame for things that are clearly beyond their control. Inevitably, this leads to a sense of failure and reinforces the Negative Mind’s opinion that they are useless and unworthy. Many sufferers feel they are so unworthy to the point that they refuse to eat in front of other people for fear of being in the way.


C.N.C. sufferers will often punish themselves for going back on a bargain with their Negative Mind or for things that they perceive as being their fault, even if in reality they are not. Punishments usually take the form of denying themselves pleasure and happiness. Food is the obvious example (after all, we all need food to survive) but the Negative Mind is also often telling the sufferer that they deserve to die.

Punishment may also include self-injury. The sufferer will cut, scratch, pinch, hit, burn or slap themselves in order to repent for "breaking the rules" in some way. Even if the individual is not self-injuring in that regard, it is likely they are using starvation, binging and/or purging as indirect methods of punishment.


The Secret Language of Eating Disorders

Peggy Claude-Pierre’s book The Secret Language of Eating Disorders is controversial but highly recommended. It is particularly useful for those who do not suffer from an eating disorder, such as a friend or loved one, as it gives a good insight into the negative mindset associated with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder/compulsive overeating. The information here has been provided because C.N.C. is an important concept that should not be ignored. It is not something that a doctor will diagnose, but it is clearly something that links all eating disorder sufferers. Awareness should be increased to help improve the public’s understanding of eating disorders.

Pale Reflections is in no way affiliated with Peggy Claude-Pierre or Crown Publishing. Information is provided as a courtesy to our visitors and members.