Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anorexia and control

How many times have you read it or heard it: Anorexia is all about control. And its corollaries: People with anorexia have to choose to eat. Parents who try to make them eat have control issues.

Those of us who have used the Maudsley approach to help our children heal from eating disorders don't buy this. But the rest of the world still does.

I know a family that's had both kinds of treatment for their anorexic child. The mom put her finger on how each felt to her: "Anything less than Maudsley gets into really icky murky games. Maudsley is brutally hard but man it is all above board: parents want kids to eat. Period. What we've been doing instead is no less psychologically tense or painful."

That's exactly what I appreciate about the Maudsley approach: It's all right there out in the open. No hidden agendas, no submerged power struggles. Parents want their child to eat. They require it. They support it. Not out of a need to control, or boundary-crossing, or a wish to keep their child small, or any of the other accusations leveled at parents of anorexics.

We require our children to eat because we love them and want them to get better.

What could be wrong with that?