Hilde Bruch called. She wants her outdated theories back.
Posted Mar 08 2012 4:26pm
I read this article a while ago, and I'm still scraping gray matter off my computer screen. The only response to this load of tripe is complete and utter evisceration of her points. First off, the article. Read it here . If you're low on Sanity WatchersTM Points, read no further. If you have MohDoh , get it out now. Oh, and here are some paper towels to clean off your computer if your brain explodes like mine did.
(Hey, it's the Quicker Picker-Upper, right?)
So, onto the evisceration.
Let's start with the first paragraph The medicalization of eating disorders -- that is, the push to find the genes that trigger them -- has offered solace to many sufferers. It's got to be easier to consider anorexia and bulimia more like, say, an autoimmune illness linked to an inherited vulnerability than than a reflection of family trauma or your own insecurities.
Unfortunately, at this point, the hunt for the illusive eating-disorder gene is just that. Illusive. Perhaps one day, doctors will be able to tailor treatments to fix genes that prompt self-destructive behavior. For now, without any quick fix, the best solution may in some ways hark back to something a bit old-fashioned: looking at the home environment and exploring your and your child's emotional issues around food, control and power.
A biology lesson for the good doctor (the university who granted her medical degree really should revoke it--this is seriously BASIC biology): Most disorders with a genetic basis don't have a single causative gene. Those disorders that do, like cystic fibrosis or PKU, are the exception to the rule. There's no cancer gene, no diabetes gene, no schizophrenia gene or bipolar gene. There won't ever be. Genes don't cause disease. They basically make proteins, and if the protein isn't made properly, then a disease can result. Often many genes combine with environmental factors increase or decrease the likelihood that you will develop illness.
And just because there's no "quick fix" for eating disorders doesn't mean that there isn't a biological basis. There's no quick fix for HIV, for crap's sake, but that doesn't mean it's not caused by a virus.
The search for genes linked to eating disorders aren't because people are lazy. They're not doing because they just don't want to do the work. Nor are parents looking for a so-called "quick fix" lazy, either. I'm sorry, I don't think that not wanting to put your kid through years of painful treatment with an unknown payoff makes you lazy or a bad parent. In fact, quite the opposite. Wanting your child to return to normal life as soon as possible sounds rather, dunno, healthy to me.
When Food is Family contains anecdotes about parents who are so controlling that children feel the need to restrict food as a way to assert their own independence, about families that are so emotionally starved that children fill an emotional void with food. None of these analyses are brand new, but the coping techniques she outlines offer a framework for families who may be coping with a child who is starving or purging or both.
The plural of anecdote isn't data. I'm sure these families exist, but several studies have shown that emotional starvation or over-controlling parents don't cause eating disorders. Researchers have known this for YEARS ( Eisler, 1995 ; le Grange, 2008 ). These views show willful ignorance and pure boneheadedness. Yes, people with eating disorders have crappy families, but they don't have them at any higher rate than people without eating disorders.
So...yeah. I just can't figure out how the hell people get these platforms for such trash!