November 26, 2006

New York Times essay on Maudsley

Coincidence? I think not:

The same day that the author, Harriet Brown, socks it to anorexia in a New York Times essay on Maudsley....

"Anorexia Nervosa goes on hiatus." (Okay, this AN is a metal music band, but still. It seems fitting.)

Brown's deeply felt, unflinchingly told essay will tell readers more about this illness than they've ever heard. And for a change, readers will hear the truth. This is a great day for families, and a rotten day for eating disorders.

For more about Harriet Brown's work, check out her blog, "Love, Food & Money."

Me, I'm off to buy a bushel of New York Times papers!

November 24, 2006

Let's Evolve!

In honor of Charles Darwin's publication of "The Origin of Species" on this day in 1859, let's talk science.

In reaction to Lauren Greenfield's HBO Documentary, THIN, the eating disorder world is balancing the mixed pleasures of public scrutiny and the dismayingly harsh light that scrutiny has wrought. We all want the media to talk about the topics we care about, but we don't always want to hear what they say.

Some treatment centers, initially supportive of the film, are circling the wagons to make it clear THIN isn't about them. Even the treatment center featured appears queasy. ED activists and advocacy organizations are eager to praise the film's honesty, but want everyone to know that the film left out all the good stuff: like hope, optimism, recovery, and context.

THIN is an artistic collage using floridly mentally ill people in the service of social commentary. It isn't an ad for a treatment approach, it isn't a documentary of the history or medicine of treatment, it isn't a public service announcement. It is art.

The film isn't good for people with eating disorders, it isn't good for family members seeking help, and I grieve for what it has and will do to the sufferers portrayed.

It goes without saying that the film isn't good for people like me who want DESPERATELY for the public to both understand eating disorders and also understand the treatment options and possibilities. For that, we cannot look to art, we must look at science.

The Academy of Eating Disorders has, in my opinion, the right idea: they collaborated with Wiley to post a list of articles of evidence-based therapies for the public. There aren't a lot. I vote for increasing the ratio of good studies to sensationalist media about eating disorders and other brain disorders. And my I also recommend this shocking bit of good sense and good science by our hero, Dr. Bulik, in Newsweek.

November 23, 2006

Food for the Ears

On Thanksgiving we Yanks do a lot of food stuff, so for the holiday some more stuffing for your poor neglected ears:

Got sense? Well Dr. Walter Kaye and Dr. Craig Johnson have packed enough of it into an hour to satisfy: "Why Do They Keep Doing It: How the Brain Drives Eating Disordered Thoughts and Behaviors" was presented at the September 2006 NEDA conference. You can get it in MP3 or on CD for $5, and you'll savor every byte.

Dr. Cris Haltom describes the Maudsley approach in an appetizing way that will help parents or professionals interested in an overview. VERY practical and realistic. Nutritious, too. Haltom is a real advocate for parents, and clearly believes that therapists and families can collaborate well. This download from the Eating Disorder Hope Virtual Library will set you back $7, thereby saving you $83 for an introductory hour of therapy. You WILL understand what the Maudsley approach is after hearing this. Still hungry? Get some more coaching and encouragement by downloading my lecture, too.

And here's an oldie-but-goodie from 2001 at the Maudsley Hospital, a debate on the cause of eating disorders: "Fashion Victims" is moderated by Dr. Janet Treasure and features Kenn Nunn on the topic of scapegoating the media. Riveting.

November 22, 2006

A site for Maudsley parents!!!!!!

It is time...a web site just for parents interested in family-based Maudsley treatment for eating disorders: www.maudsleyparents.org .

The site, run by a team of experienced parents, offers information, hope, and support.

I'm proud to support and be part of this effort to reach out to parents in need. The parents there are the kind of people you want on your side: strong, informed, experienced, and feisty.

Join the party: Maudsley Parents!

November 21, 2006

Why blog?

I wrote a book about my family and our harrowing, and often funny, encounter with extreme psychiatry when our daughter developed anorexia nervosa. All the usual suspects were featured: bad care, worse care, bad decisions, worse decisions, bad days, but eventually a long run of good ones.

The book, "Eating With Your Anorexic," was published by McGraw Hill in 2005, and I got busy telling people about it. Mostly, this entailed throwing myself in front of the wheels of passing dignitaries, professionals, journalists, and parents who stood still long enough to let me harangue them.

Slowly, very slowly, the world of eating disorder treatment is changing. There is more evidence-based treatment out there, less parent-bashing, more attention to nutrition, and less tolerance for malnutrition. This is good.

There are still a lot of parents who get a bill but not a word in, however, and a lot of families torn apart while they watch an ill family member flail about helplessly while told "It's not about the food."

There is still a need for families to hear this message: "It is not your fault. And there IS something you can do."