August 31, 2011

"Don't be daft. It will be like I'm there!"

I know you want to come to the F.E.A.S.T. symposium in November because of the wonderful speakers, the family-style meals with terrific people from around the world, and the chance to stroll Old Town Alexandria. But if you need more reasons, the wonderful C&M are here to convince you:

C&M, you are so cool.

August 29, 2011

Psst: pass it on

Picture a family out there who feel isolated, frightened, demoralized, and hopeless. Imagine them finding out they can spend two days with a group of caring, well-informed, warm, and curious parents who were once experiencing the same low state. Then imagine they find out about the F.E.A.S.T. symposium event on November 5th, the day after it ends.

I need people to call and email their local and regional newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations to give them this press release.

Here's the release. 

Now imagine that YOU are the one who made sure one more parent finds the information about the conference. Make it happen!

This conference has one purpose: to help families. No one is making any money, nothing is being sold, there's no marketing or advertising. Just empowering families.

August 24, 2011

and people get depression because they're sad


I wasn't there for this lecture and it may well have been misunderstood by the reporter, but it brings up a common problem with media coverage and those in the ED field: tautology. A tautology is a definition that defines a thing as that thing:


1. The saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g., they arrived one after the other in succession).

So, the statement "anorexics often lack a sense of belonging and feel disconnected from society" is no great news item. It implies that these ideas are what drive people to diet and that anorexia is a diet gone to extreme. But this ascetic, righteous, messianic mindset is a well-known symptom of anorexia. Not a cause, not an explanation, not a "reason" to be anorexic. It also usually fades with sustained, normalized nutrition.

Mistaking symptoms for causes leads to treatment that confuses diagnosis with assessment and treatment targets with treatment effects.

Unfortunately, since there is no real eating disorders field - no agreed upon diagnosis, definition, or treatment goals - there is no way to distinguish between innovative ideas and new and creative ways to misunderstand the illness. Just the fact that there could be such widely diverging ideas about the illness says a lot.

It is so important to distinguish symptoms from cause, and assessment with treatment.

August 23, 2011

happy earthquake day

Well, that was interesting.

I was sitting in my living room on my computer (surprise, surprise) and heard my washer start that wham-wham-wham it does when I put too big a blanket in there. But the washer wasn't on.

I realized that it was the furnace - directly below me in the basement - fixing to explode. The whole house was banging and shuddering louder and louder and I fled out the door but still felt the shuddering under my bare feet.

Then I saw my neighbors coming out of their houses all using the universal arm motion meaning "WTF?"

And then it was obvious that it was an earthquake. Funny: the event took less than a minute but the recounting and talking about it went on for a half hour. At first I assumed it was completely local - just our street - but then realized it was much more widespread. Then it took three hours to find everyone in the family - phones were not working, then lines were overloaded, then just not going through.

The dog wasn't bothered, by the way. Followed me out the door at a saunter, went to sit in the sun.

Family and friends shaken but uninjured - thank goodness. Quite a day. Damage being counted in the region, but we're okay - thank goodness.

P.S. They cancelled school for tomorrow to inspect the buildings. Son thinks earthquakes rock!

August 19, 2011

Children on diets: healthy or horrific?

Please join the appropriate and necessary backlash against a new children's book promoting dieting.

Yes, there is a tidal wave of obesity fear out there. Yes, people mistakenly believe the cure is to scare kids into dieting. Yes, if you criticize dieting you are going to be treated as "part of the problem." There is much to discuss on this topic and we will have to agree to disagree on much of it but this much we can all agree on: children should not diet, be encouraged to diet, or allowed to diet.

Parents are and should be in charge of planning, preparing, serving, and eating with their children.

Note the classic anorexic mirror shot on the cover. Oops, that's the typical before-after(before) dieting commercial.

Speak up, people. Even if it is spitting in the wind - do it anyway.

London Evening Standard
Dances with fat
Maggie goes on a diet book
Beautiful you by julie (thank you, PJ!)

August 18, 2011

Philadelphia Inquirer guest blog!

I was honored recently when I had a request from Heidi Dalzell, a blogger for the Philadelphia Inquirer, to tell a bit about our family story and F.E.A.S.T. - make sure to go by and leave your comments!

The title is a bit over the top - there's journalism for you - as we did not save our daughter's life, we simply gave her the opportunity to do so herself.

a parent's view of the Maudsley family approach

August 17, 2011

What could the Worldwide Charter mean for families around the world?

You may not have heard of the Worldwide Charter for Action on Eating Disorders yet, but I'm hoping you will hear more and more of it and help me and others spread the word.

The Charter was created by an international group of people concerned with eating disorders - families, clinicians, researchers, activists - in response to an outcry for positive change. An international questionnaire discovered six common themes throughout the world and the collaboration created six Rights Of People With Eating Disorders And Their Carers and went on to publish the Charter for free use throughout the world.
Now it is our job - all of us - to learn, to facilitate, to DEMAND these rights.

I volunteer for the Academy for Eating Disorders Worldwide Charter Task Force because I believe in the Charter. I want to see these principles and rights enacted everywhere. We need your help. I am asking you a favor.
Read the Charter and then: 

Send your story of how one of the Rights listed was important to your loved one's care. Alternately, tell us how one of the Rights, if followed, would have changed the care your family received. Tell us why the Charter matters, and some way it could be enacted in your country.Send your story to me to bring to the Charter Task Force. Send it in an email, or a blog comment, or a video clip. Send it as soon as you can so we can include it in a short film we are creating to help people understand the Charter and how it can be used - and why it is needed. 

August 16, 2011

Weighing the awkward and unsatisfying truth

It seems SO simple but it just isn't. We need to stop these terrible fights of opposite poles: weight matters vs. weight doesn't matter. Without normalizing medical health and behaviors we CAN NOT expect to normalize mental health. But here is the awkward, unsatisfying truth: there is no tablet from the mountaintop to tell us what to do with an individual patient. There is no magic number, no quick chart, no inarguable calculation.

Sorry, but it just isn't simple and it is still critical. We have to accept that. It's "state not weight."

Thank goodness for C&M and Dr. Treasure to the rescue!

August 11, 2011

Watching chemo work

Wow. Watch chemotherapy stomp out cancer:

Breathtaking! Let the dust fly, arms wave, heels slam down.

Go, Charlotte. GO, Charlotte! Whoop, whoop!

August 10, 2011

Becky Henry reads from her book, Kathleen MacDonald is guest!

Hmmm, what's this? Two of my favorite activists in the same place and I don't get to be there? Pout.

But maybe YOU can:

More than 90% memory

If you can read this article without scratching yourself, more power to you. I couldn't, and actually had a range of sensations that were so overpowering as to require three days to read the whole thing: I took breaks for deep cleansing breaths.

But so worth it!

THE ITCH, by Atul Gawande
The New Yorker

Go read, and come back to discuss!

"visual perception is more than ninety per cent memory and less than ten per cent sensory nerve signals."

August 6, 2011

Glad to know you, but maybe not me

Among the reasons it is a pain to be my friend:

  1. I never say "you look wonderful" even if you ARE wonderful.
  2. I'm uncomfortable when you compliment me on my appearance.
  3. I won't join you in discussing your diet.
  4. Conversations about bad foods and unhealthy foods are one-sided and I'm not talking.
  5. Fat jokes don't amuse.
  6. I am doing you a favor if I don't respond when you curl your lip over "the obesity epidemic."
  7. Commenting on people's lost or gained weight renders me mute.
  8. Doing so in front of my children will be treated like making a racist comment and I'll contradict you loudly and immediately and will not apologize later. Feel free to do so yourself.

August 4, 2011

Entmoot over sandwiches and cake

It was held over a few hours, not days, and in comfy chairs overlooking a subdivision, not Derndingle. We had sandwiches and cake and there was a small snafu over salsa on the carpet. But it was my first entmoot and covered important matters in an unhasty manner.

I am so grateful for friends and friendship and connections. It's not an evidence-based approach, I know, but so therapeutic.

August 2, 2011

She dared me

Her daughter was researching the specifics of the hair loss expected with chemotherapy.

"Trust you to get a free Brazilian on the NHS, mum!"

To which another wag inquired "What do you do with the Brazilians once you have finished with them?"

Laugh, people. Much more therapeutic than crying.

(and if you don't get the above, it's just as well. DO NOT GOOGLE. Just giggle.)

Savage beauty is right

In my right mind, nothing could have induced me to stand in line for hours to see a fashion designer's work. But, it was hot, and an odd set of circumstances, and it turned out that we got a short-cut in the line and family and friends really wanted to see it so I did view the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met when I was in New York last week.


I bailed out about halfway through and played Sudoku on my Blackberry until my companions finished. It was frightening and unsettling and offensive but not just for the reasons it was meant to be all those things.

It wasn't "fashion" in the sense of being about what a consumer might draw from in choosing clothing, or even about clothing. It wasn't "art" it was marketing. As we were herded through the spaces filled with sadomasochistic, mysogynist, frivolous, strutting frippery the experience for me played out in the other people who had paid and waited to experience it and the things they said: "I'd wear that." "That's pretty" "I'd love to fit into that." Although a scant few appeared to be taking it in as art and experience I was almost sorrier for them.

Sorry, museum curators, the audience doesn't 'get' the artistic and conceptual goal of that exhibit and you knew it wouldn't. You haven't elevated the topic or posed interesting questions. You've just used celebrity culture and objectification of women's bodies and no ironic eyebrow raises are working here.  It was far more like the Bodies exhibit downtown at the Seaport that I went to last year where they tried to make it about "science" but really it was a tawdry freak show - of questionable origins.

Having done the McQueen exhibit with people whose lives are not steeped in the question of Size Zero, it was interesting to try to talk to them afterward about the fact that the faceless, often headless "bodies" within the "clothes" in the exhibit were - every single one - the exact same 6 foot size prepubescent frame. Bodies were just a (tortured, miserable) inverted cipher, obviously, so why would that matter? Why would it matter that they are all not male? Why would it matter that celebrity designers have an effect on the actual clothes and actual standards of the female body? Perhaps it didn't. Perhaps the nearly uniformly female parade shuffling through that exhibit didn't all get extruded into the gift shop feeling anything personal about their own bodies and space in the world. I doubt it, though. I felt used and discarded, myself, and all the more disgusted for having paid for it and the sheep-like carnival I'd implicitly supported.

I'm sure it reveals me as a rube, as tasteless and clueless, but one of my fathers - an art historian - agreed: he was busy experiencing art at the museum and had no time, literal or figurative, for that exhibit.

In what is not in the least ironic, I also experienced the Brain exhibit at the Museum of Natural History with my other dad. We took apart a brain (plastic) and that was fun. We walked through a snapping, popping hall of synapses and made axons connect by waving our hands over a lighted table.

The contrast between the two experiences could not have been greater.

August 1, 2011


Something new is happening in eating disorders. The voice of eating disorder patients is less stereotyped, more empowered, and less victimized. Why? I attribute the changes to two separate but interacting elements: the cross-pollination of the Internet, and the shifting narratives of the treatment community.

Before the Internet, our exposure to literature about eating disorders was limited to the few books that happened to be on the bookstore shelves that year and the occasional magazine article. Now we can search for information in a deluge of competing sources and even talk back to them: commenting and quoting and blogging and even interacting with the writers. Treatment providers are also being exposed to and seeking out a new variety of both professional and anecdotal sources.

Katie noted when she introduced me and others to another great blog, "It's wonderful when I quite randomly stumble across other bloggers who think the same way as me."