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David Baxter

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A Mother Tells the Story of a Family Battling Anorexia Together
Monday, November 27, 2006

A year ago this week Dr. Mada Hapworth, a contributor here at AADT, wrote an extensive critique of a Newsweek cover story about anorexia and other eating disorders. There she discussed the "family approach," to treating anorexia and disordered eating. Often called the Maudsley Approach after the hospital where it was developed, this treatment focuses a great deal of attention on family involvement in the eating disorder treatment process.

In a powerful article from this weekend's NYT Magazine, author Harriet Brown discusses her own family's battle with their oldest daughter's anorexia. Finding success with the Maudsley Approach didn't come without great sacrifice, heartache and struggle, but in the end, the Brown's story is one of a victory tempered with caution.

In her piece, titled One Spoonful at a Time, Brown illustrates beautifully the everyday struggle that facing down anorexia involves. She also highlights the many parties involved, not only the family, but also therapists, psychiatrists, general practitioners and nutritionists. Brown also points out that just because the Maudsley Approach worked for them, it might not necessarily be the best choice for everyone. Each case is different, and a great deal depends on circumstances and the choices made by those involved.

Maybe the thing that shines through most in Brown's piece is the confusion and at times utter helplessness felt by herself and her husband. They battled questions and doubts about themselves and their daughter, but with the proper support and treatment regimen, they eventually saw the other side. Their story shows how battling anorexia is similar in many ways to battling other diseases, how there are losses and their are gains. How even when something looks licked, it can resurface and wreak havoc. As with treating many other afflictions, diligence and determination, when combined with expertise and information, proved to be the victor. Their struggle--their daughter's struggle--may continue, perhaps forever, but they have won an important and decisive battle. And their story can and should serve as a reminder to the millions of women and families who have felt powerless to eating disorders like anorexia.
 

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