carnival of eating disorders #10

welcome to this month’s carnival of eating disorders, a reader’s digest of blog posts about mental health issues related to problems such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, binge eating disorder, food addiction, exercise anorexia, as well as body image.

parents and anorexia
let’s start with a very controversial issue: pro-anorexia mothers. ex-model, ex-anorexic “mamavision” refers to a group of mothers on livejournal who are practicing anorexics:

there is no way in hell a mother can be pro ana, and be a healthy positive influence on her child. it’s impossible. these women who are are choosing this selfish, dangerous, vain lifestyle shouldn’t be parents. i believe if a social worker were to see their online behavior, their parental ability would be in jeopardy.

since i see eating disorders as a mental health issue, i have a hard time thinking of these mothers as “choosing a lifestyle”. just like people who are living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and even addictions don’t choose to live like that. in many situations they might tell themselves that it is a choice; it makes us feel more powerful if we think we choose something. – but i digress; that’s material for another post.

at any rate, mamavision’s opinion is worth noting. at the other end of the spectrum, we find a very well put-together video by laura collins, who interviewed a number of eating disorder specialists on the question of whether parents are the cause of eating disorders.

i’d be very interested in your opinion on this topic.

living in stigma presents some research on purging habits.

whether or not a person with an eating disorder uses more than one method of purging may be a better indicator of the severity of the disorder than how frequently purging occurs, results of a study suggest.

but purging frequency was linked to other, related psychological problems, dr. pamela k. keel of the university of iowa in iowa city and her colleagues found. “purging frequency was significantly associated with depression and anxiety,” keel told reuters health, “whereas multiple purging methods were significantly associated with eating disorder severity. so, each feature provided unique and clinically useful information.”

body image
hungry guy was the very first eating disorders related blog i read on a frequent basis, so i’m always particularly interested in learning about his journey. the post we’re highlighting today contains some reflections on assumptions about appearance such as

  • the 1st thing that people will notice about me is what’s wrong with my appearance.
  • if i could look just as i wish, my life would be much happier.
  • my appearance is responsible for much of what has happened to me in my life.
  • i should always do whatever i can to look my best.
  • the only way i could ever like my looks would be to change them.

food addiction
jolynn braley from the fit shack shares some findings on fast food addictions:

i came across an article about a study done on lab rats that demonstrated food creating the same brain changes that opioids do! this study covered the effect that the combination of sugar, fat, and salt had on the brains of the lab rats. the brain reacted the same as it did to heroin or morphine.

where do you find this combination of sugar, fat, and salt? in fast food of course!

these are the feature posts for this round. other contributions included:

do you have an interesting blog post about eating disorders?

are you recovering from anorexia or bulima and would like to share your insights?

have you dug up a useful research article on eating disorders, in whatever field of study: psychology, biology, neuroscience, sociology or any other field?

do you have some ideas on how to deal with body image problems?

what about a review of a book, movie or other creative endeavour on the topic?

what are your insights and experiences around overeating and food addiction?

all these and more are great additions to this carnival. so if you have something, please submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of eating disorders using our carnival submission form. the next carnival of eating disorders will be published on november 30.

10 thoughts on “carnival of eating disorders #10

  1. Terra (aka rilah)

    The MV post really hit me hard. I took it to the most personal level possible, as an attack on myself as a single parent who is not recovered. Especially in light of her use of the word selfish.

    That being said, I think we and MV should clarify that she was not anorexic, per se, but a model told to lose weight, often, who did. In an unhealthy way.

    Had she an eating disorder, I think her posts would be more sensitive towards those who still do.

    Additionally, I believe her intended goal is to target the “proana” groups and leaders, attempting to wipe out the “wannarexic” lifestyle. She’s having a difficult time in her writing, I’d say, keeping the distinction between those searching for an eating disorder in the hopes of thinness, popularity and celebrity and those who are plagued with, as you say, a mental illness.

    Just my two cents.

  2. isabella mori

    terra, i hear you, and i hope you don’t find this too upsetting.

    the line between wannarexia and anorexia – isn’t it a bit blurred? i have seen this quite often (“i wasn’t REALLY anorexic/addicted/depressed”) … of course i have no insight into mamaVision’s exact history so can’t say one way or the other.

    also, i’m not sure that everyone who has lived through a problem looks back on it with compassion. sometimes people have a need to distance themselves from the problem by talking tough about their past. (again, i don’t know mamaVision enough to even take a guess as to whether that’s the case for her).

    as a parent, living with the fact that i am far from perfect, that i am prone to pass on my own difficulties to my children – so humbling. over 30 years of parenting has brought me to my knees over and over again on this. all i can do is learn, learn, learn, be gentle my family and myself, and realize that “humbling” by no means signifies “humiliating”. being humble, in its best sense, means that i am no more, no less than any other mother on the planet.

    hm … didn’t think i’d get so emotional over this. you know what, i think that’s a good thing 🙂

  3. Harriet

    IMO Mamavision is wildly misguided and somewhat irresponsible. She believes in “social anorexia,” otherwise known as “wannarexia.” She often blames parents for their children’s illnesses. Worst of all, she encourages young anorexic girls and women to reject their parents and to become part of “her” community.

    For an adolescent who’s anorexic, the best shot for recovery is through family-based treatment (the Maudsley approach). Turning away from family is a destructive thing, unless of course the family is abusive. Most parents love their children and are doing their best for them, even if they’re not perfect. (And who is?)

    I’m with you on the mental illness front. My daughter is recovered from anorexia. There’s no question in my mind that eating disorders are biologically based disorders that affect body and mind.

  4. Terra (aka rilah)


    no, of course i’m not upset by your comments or even the mention of the original blog post. i was just voicing my own gut instinctive reaction of when i read the post, the day it was published.

    i suppose the best way to say it is this: eating disorder or not, a good mom wants what is best for her child. ideally, what is best and what makes them happy are the same thing. i know in all honesty that my eating disorder is no commentary on whether i am a good mom or not. what is, is zoë’s development, growth, happiness and social ability. in reference to this, even being one with (now) 20 years of anorexic behaviours, i am a kick ass mom.

    i just didn’t like the generalization that i might not be, solely because of my “selfish” continuation of a eating disorder past pregnancy.

  5. Laura Collins

    I don’t think MV is doing her readers any favors. She doesn’t seem to understand eating disorders, and she crosses boundaries no adult should take with other people’s children.

  6. Josie

    I agree with many of the comments above.

    As a brief introduction, i’m a regular reader/critic of MVs blog, and i’m a ‘recovered’ anorexic/bulimic.

    I believe MV to be quite misguided. I don’t believe she had an eating disorder, but was on an extreme diet (i believe these frequently get confused, and that is why pro-ana sites are so popular – they’re filled with the 1 in 4 teenage girls who use eating disorder behaviour as part of a diet).
    I think MV is having difficulty distinguishing between anorexics, EDNOS sufferers, those on diets and believe they have an ED, those who want anorexia, and those who are on diets and are pretending to have an ED for support (“pro-anas”). And then she’s confused over the users of proanorexia sites – assuming they’re all those who want to be anorexic. The differences are all fairly subtle, and difficult to understand.
    I feel her background means she has difficulty too. She sees fashion as more influencial than i think it is, she doesn’t know what it’s like to live with mental illness, she doesn’t know what it’s like to be ugly or fat, she doesn’t know what it’s like to have a troubled family, and she doesn’t know what it’s like to negotiate through health/social care systems to find support (or lack of).

    I feel like she’s too influencial considering her setbacks, and has got herself stuck in too deep, trying to deal with issues she can’t comprehend, which could be hurtful to so many people.

    I also take issue with how she won’t admit she’s wrong, or make alterations to posts when she knows she’s wrong.

  7. isabella mori

    thanks to all of you for making the time to comment.

    now i really don’t want to make this a “criticize MV” spot. i think others have already taken up that task J

    i would like to pick up on a few things that people have said, though:

    harriet says that “turning away from family is a destructive thing, unless of course the family is abusive.” i think that’s an important point. exactly how helpful will the rest of the family be? not all families are as loving as terra is with her daughter. i wonder whether that’s something that MV wanted to point out?

    however, just because one is dealing with anorexia (or any other challenge) – that’s absolutely no reason to think that that makes one an “unfit” mother, as terra points out.

    if i understand correctly, MV was talking about women who are in that phase of the disease where denial reigns supreme. i would say that being pro-ANA can be a particular form of denial.

    how to help mothers in that situation, and how to help their children? that is not an easy question to answer. actually, i’d be interested in hearing how the maudsley approach deals with family dynamics like that. perhaps laura can tell us a bit about that?

    josie is talking about the distinction between various phenomena of anorexia and EDNOS. i guess i look at things from a more pragmatic point of view: what exactly is a particular person experiencing, and how does that affect her health and the health of those near to her? how can she best be helped? the name that we give to that experience is important only to a certain extent.

    i really do suspect that the borders between, say, anorexia, “wannarexia” and orthorexia are not as clearcut as we might want them to be.

    i also suspect that if someone like MV treats people with anorexia with a lack of respect, that is probably not so much the result of a lack of understanding regarding the various labels of eating disorders but rather the result of a difficulty connecting with the experience of others on a, shall we say: heart level. more often than not, such a difficulty arises from fear.

  8. Laura Collins

    Eating disorders are likely to show up in family members: it is genetically transmitted. So there certainly will be families with eating disordered parents and children.

    The question is, does separating the family help or hinder? I would say that it hinders a lot if the family is functional and healthy, and perhaps hinders EVEN MORE if there are other family members with EDs. The urgency to get the whole family together and facing this together is even higher the more people who are affected.

    I’m not an expert, or a therapist, so I can’t tell you what their decision-making is on this, but treating a child in isolation seems a bad idea.

  9. isabella mori

    laura – i’m not sure that eating disorders are 100% genetically transmitted but all the research seems to indicate that there are genetic connections.

    you are bang-on with the question: does separating the family help or hinder?

    in an ideal case scenario, there is absolutely no question in my mind that involving the whole family is superior to treating the person(s) with the eating disorder individually only. often, it will be a good idea to have a combination of these two approaches.

    however, if the family environment is toxic, there may be cases where treating the young person with the eating disorder ONLY in the context of family therapy may not work so well. it takes an extraordinarily skilled family therapist to help both the family and the person with the eating disorder navigate through systemic toxicity AND the eating disorder – it’s hard to find such “super therapists” (virginia satir was one of them).

    as usual, i think it boils down to assessing the situation on a case-by-case basis.

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