Anorexia nervosa, bulimia - medical causes of eating disorders - symptoms, treatment, diagnosis
A Skeptical Look at the Conventional Wisdom


Defining the Terminology | Diagnostic Criteria | The Author Tells His Story | More Misdiagnosis Cases | A Quick Overview of the Genesis of Anorexia Nervosa | Medical Disorders And Conditions That Can Cause Anorexia, Weight Loss, Or Vomiting | Medical Tests | Diagnostic Deficiencies | A Message To Parents | A Message to Physicians | A Message to Therapists | A Quick Lesson on Human Nature | A Skeptical Look at the Conventional Wisdom | Public Awareness Campaigns Backfire | Depression and Anorexia | Classical Conditioning and Anorexia | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | Excessive Exercise | Perfectionism | Sexual Abuse and Anorexia | Laxative Abuse | Bulimia Nervosa | Starvation Response | Malabsorption and Weight Loss | Body Mass Index : A Flawed Concept? | The Anorexic Voice | Art Therapy | Pro-Anorexia Web Sites | Celebrity Role Models | How Belief Skews Perception | Vegetarianism and Anorexia | Disturbing Trends in Medicine | Eating Disorder Clinics - Medical Testing | Frequently Asked Questions | About the Author | Contact Us | Bibliography | Disclaimer | The Future of Eating Disorders

Our firmest convictions are apt to be the most suspect;
they mark our limitations and our bounds.
Life is a petty thing unless it is moved
by the indomitable urge
to expand our boundaries.
                                               Jose Ortega y Gasset
Let's examine some of the conventional wisdom on anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and see if perhaps there may be alternate explanations that may better explain what's actually happening with these disorders. The statements of conventional wisdom are taken from some of the more popular websites and books dealing with eating disorders.
Conventional Wisdom: Some family styles may contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa. Families of people with the disorder are more likely to be overprotective, rigid, and suffocating in their closeness. In these cases, anorexia nervosa develops as a struggle for independence and individuality. It is likely to surface in adolescence when new demands for independence occur. Other characteristics of families that may increase the chance of developing anorexia nervosa are overvaluing appearance and thinness, criticizing a child's weight or shape, or being physically or sexually abusive.
Skeptical View: The above statements are pure speculation and the assessments of family dynamics are highly subjective and prone to misinterpretation due to the biases and beliefs of the therapist. How can the therapist or social worker accurately assess the family dynamic when they do not know the family? It is unlikely they will take the time to get to know the family or the patient, and will generally make many assumptions about the parents and the patient based on minimal information. It is easy to interpret a refusal to eat as a form of disobedience or rebellion, and to most parents, this explanation may help them make sense of  their child's confusing behavior. This is mainly due to the fact that the parents have not been informed that medical disorders can cause the same behavior.
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