Monday, March 30, 2009

Kudos to Salon and Kate Harding

for this piece on the new study just out from England that may finally shut down the "Anorexia is the mother's fault!" argument. (You have to register on the site to see it, but you can get a free day pass.)

The study looks at brain development in utero, and reinforces the notion that genetics and neurobiology are the biggest culprits when it comes to why some kids develop eating disorders. As Harding writes:

Ian Frampton, a pediatric psychology consultant and co-author of a study to be presented at a conference at the Institute of Education in London this week, says, "Our research shows that certain kids' brains develop in such a way that makes them more vulnerable to the more commonly known risk factors for eating disorders, such as the size-zero debate, media representations of very skinny women and bad parents." The Guardian reports that based on "in-depth neuropsychological testing" on over 200 anorexia patients in the UK, US, and Norway, Frampton and his colleagues found "about 70% of the patients had suffered damage to their neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with each other, had undergone subtle changes in the structure of their brains, or both." In the past, researchers often assumed that anorexia causes changes to sufferers' brains, but these findings suggest that it works the other way around.

One caveat: If you value your sanity, don't read the comments. Unless a huge surge of adrenaline would be a positive development in your evening.

*Full disclosure: Harding mentions Feed Me! in the piece. Thanks, Kate!


pennylane said...

I think not reading comments at Salon is generally a useful piece of advice but I always cheer up when I see Kate's byline.

I was glad to see this study and that there is greater research into the neurobiology of eating disorders (and other problems). I was not surprised at all to see that, for example, similar neuropsychological problems were found in children with ADHD, etc.

Gwen said...

I'm not going to read the article; But thanks for describing the gist of the research and what it means. It's about time people stopped blaming parents for the problem and started seeing them as part of the solution. I had anorexia for many years, and though I'm sure my mom and dad may have done some things to trigger my illness, my anorexia was so much more than just a reaction to problems with my parents, or a need for "control" (God, I hate that one). People always say that and it drives me crazy. It's almost as if people are justifying inaction. By attributing the causality of the illness to an intense need for control they attempt to excuse their inaction. God forbid their intervention make the sufferer feel more out of control and make the anorexia worse. In reality, feeling out of control is inevitable and a necessary part of recovery from an eating disorder. From my own experience, people with eating disorders deep inside desperately want someone to take charge but our illness compels us to deny that need and actively reject help and intervention. That is the nature of the beast. Thanks again for being a voice of reason in a mad, and very eating-disordered, world!