October 2, 2012

Carrie Arnold pits sensible against silly

Carrie Arnold's piece in Slate does something all too rare in eating disorders writing: she's reasonable. Reason and reasonable are rare real estate in ED literature and she is about to be the major landowner as her third book comes out.

Decoding Anorexia:
How Breakthroughs in Science
Offer Hope for Eating Disorders
It's hard to be reasonable about anorexia. People are so exercised (ahem) about their little corner of belief. I plead guilty on that myself. We are at pains to be heard on OUR point, to beat down THAT other point, that no one loses.

In Slate, for example, Arnold doesn't try to paint anorexia into an ideological corner. She doesn't try to make the disorder into a specimen of cold mechanistic levers. She doesn't try to balance (the refuge of poor thought) talk of biology with some requisite amount of social influence, she simply acknowledges it.

At the same time, she takes on some tough stuff here. It's a bit heretical not to go with the popular flow on culture causing EDs. But someone needs to speak up without falling into the nature OR nurture trap. It is reasonable to acknowledge culture in eating disorders, but to put it in context at the same time: a diversion from the larger picture. I'm so grateful to her for this, and for this article.

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