The dark side of mindfulness: It’s supposed to be calming. But there’s growing evidence the fashionable therapy can be harmful
PUBLISHED: 17:03 EST, 8 December 2018 | UPDATED: 20:07 EST, 8 December 2018
Since the age of 13, crippling anxiety has derailed mealtimes or long-term eating disorder sufferer, Maddy Le Bourdon. Now 27, her condition is something she has had medical treatment for, on and off, for more than a decade.
But 18 months ago, she put her faith in the promise of a relatively new type of psychotherapy: mindfulness. Following her GP’s advice, she downloaded a smartphone app called Headspace, for a ten-minute, daily audio session.
A soothing voice instructed her to focus on her breathing and let noisy thoughts float by without judgment, as if they were passing traffic. But for Maddy, far from leaving her calmer and less worried, it evoked a disturbing reaction.
‘I began obsessing over my bloated stomach and the food I’d eaten. For the first time ever, I felt the need to purge,’ she recalls.