hair test for eating disorders: scientific triumph or an orwellian nightmare?

according to new research, a hair test can now show whether someone has anorexia or bulimia. another scientific triumph!

supposedly, this is useful because “diagnosing eating disorders is often hampered because of patient resistance”.

whenever i hear the phrase “patient resistance”, my, um, hair stands up. in my experience, most, if not all, “patients” who “resist” have a very good reason for that resistance. they feel medicalized, looked down on, not taken seriously – anything that involves a lack of power on their part and too much power on the part of orwellian big brother types or anyone else against whom they resist.

so now i’m wondering how this test might be useful. a person who is not sure whether they have an eating disorder could just as well see a therapist or other professional, or confer with someone who is recovering from an eating disorder. i’m not sure how this test might help them.

if, on the other hand, distressed parents bring in their teenage son who they feel has an eating disorder, then snipping off five strands of hair (apparently that’s how much it takes to determine whether there is an eating disorder) and then sticking a report under his nose that confirms his anorexia and/or bulimia – how is that going to help?

most likely, either the young man knows it already and isn’t wanting to deal with it, or feels that he doesn’t have an eating disorder. do you really think that a report about five strands of hair will convince him more than a look in the mirror (anorexia) or in the toilet bowl (bulimia)? i doubt it.

more useful, methinks, are friendly, respectful conversations.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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