Links for Keyword: Anorexia & Bulimia

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By KATHRYN J. ZERBE, M.D. Reading is an inestimable resource in just about any undertaking, especially so when one discovers a work that performs a real service and is written with passion, accuracy and pragmatism. Such is the case with two unflinching personal narratives on eating disorders, Portia de Rossi’s “Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain” and the 25th anniversary edition of “Bulimia: A Guide to Recovery,” by Lindsey Hall and Leigh Cohn. Both works address a question that often comes up from patients with eating disorders, as well as family members, in my own office practice: “Are there any especially helpful books or resources that can assist in recovery?” Today, when the Internet is full of sites that offer more facts about how to stay obsessed with food or weight than what might be done to recover, it’s a question that’s not always easy to answer. Ms. de Rossi’s “Unbearable Lightness” (Simon & Schuster, 2010) is a mesmerizing account of the devastating psychological and physical effects of self-starvation, excessive exercise and purging. Many readers who know about the range of life-threatening medical consequences of anorexia will still be shaken by seeing the photographs — and reading the wrenching captions — of the actress when, weighing a mere 78 pounds, she collapsed and nearly died. The agony of being scrutinized daily, if not hourly, by others in one’s profession may not be the issue that resonates most deeply for those outside of the worlds of acting or dance. But every patient I have treated in practice will recognize something in the descriptions of harsh self-criticism, denial and pretense that Ms. de Rossi poignantly but realistically makes explicit in her memoir. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14934 - Posted: 01.31.2011

By KELLI KENNEDY COCONUT CREEK, Fla. — Hilary Waller remembers begging her mother to let her fast on Yom Kippur. At 10 years old she was a bit too young, but embracing the rigid discipline seemed desperately important. "It felt like I was practicing not eating. It was something that was reassuring and gave me strength and a sense of pride," said Waller, a 28-year-old teacher at a religious school in Blue Bell, Pa. It was the same rush she got years later in college each time she saw the scale tip downward. Waller, who suffered from anorexia, starved herself until she stopped menstruating, lost some of her hair and was exercising several times a day. Health experts say eating disorders are a serious, underreported disease among Orthodox Jewish women and to a lesser extent others in the Jewish community, as many families are reluctant to acknowledge the illness at all and often seek help only when a girl is on the verge of hospitalization. Several studies indicate a rise in the problem, and those who treat eating disorders say they are seeing more Jewish patients. A new documentary, books and facilities have cropped up to help. Waller's family, which belongs to the Conservative branch of Judaism, fasted only on Yom Kippur, but she began fasting on other holidays. "And not for religious reasons," said Waller, who checked into residential treatment after college — more than a decade after she began struggling with the illness. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14765 - Posted: 12.11.2010

By LESLEY ALDERMAN Notoriously difficult to treat, eating disorders may persist for years, wreaking havoc not just on the patient’s health and personal relationships but often on family finances, as well. Hospitalizations for problems caused by eating disorders grew 18 percent from 1999 to 2006, with the steepest rise among children under age 12 (up 119 percent), followed by adults ages 45 to 64 (up 48 percent) and men of all ages (up 37 percent), according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Care for these patients can be expensive. Many must be seen on a weekly basis by a team of specialists, including a psychiatrist, a physician and a nutritionist. A residential program costs $30,000 a month on average. And many patients require three or more months of treatment, often at a facility far from home. Even after leaving a specialized program, patients may need years of follow-up care. Yet most insurers will not cover long-term treatment, and some routinely deny adequate coverage of eating disorders on the grounds that there is not enough evidence on how best to treat them, said Lynn S. Grefe, chief executive of the National Eating Disorders Association. “Eating disorders pose a unique treatment challenge in comparison to other psychiatric illnesses,” said Dr. Evelyn Attia, director of the eating disorders research program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “They are not always easy to diagnose, and insurers are often not well informed about which treatments work." Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14740 - Posted: 12.04.2010

Eating disorders are sending more U.S. children to hospital and pediatricians should be on the lookout for patients suspected of having a problem, according to a new report. Among children younger than 12 with eating disorders, hospitalizations jumped 119 per cent between 1999 and 2006, says the clinical report in Monday's edition of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is estimated 0.5 per cent of adolescent girls in the United States have anorexia nervosa (self-starvation), and one to two per cent meet criteria for bulimia nervosa (bingeing and purging), the report said. Since eating disorders can affect any organ system, pediatricians should monitor patients for medical or nutritional problems, and ensure treatment such as medical care, mental-health treatment and nutritional intervention, the report's authors recommended. "Pediatricians are encouraged to advocate for legislation and policies that ensure appropriate services for patients with eating disorders, including medical care, nutritional intervention, mental-health treatment and care co-ordination," conclude report author Dr. David Rosen of the University of Michigan and his co-authors. There is an increasing recognition of eating disorders in males, who make up 10 per cent of all cases. The disorders are increasingly seen in children. © CBC 2010

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14723 - Posted: 11.30.2010

By RONI CARYN RABIN At their first family therapy session, Rina Ranalli and her husband tried to coax their anorexic 13-year-old daughter to eat a bagel with cream cheese. What followed was a protracted negotiation. The girl said she would eat it only if she could have it plain, with nothing on it. The parents countered that they really wanted her to eat it with the cream cheese. Her last offer: she would eat half. “Does this happen at every meal?” the therapist, Daniel Le Grange, asked them, Ms. Ranalli recalled. He added gently, “It has to stop.” “It’s anorexic debate, and it’s really not helpful,” Dr. Le Grange said later in an interview. “I will usually turn to the parents and say: ‘Mom and Dad — it’s your decision what she has to eat. You have to make the choices for her, because the anorexia doesn’t allow her to think clearly.’ ” Unlike traditional treatments for anorexia nervosa in adolescents, in which the patient sees the therapist one on one, this kind of family-based treatment encourages parents to play a pivotal role in restoring their child’s weight while trying to avoid hospitalizations. It is a demanding program: for the first two weeks of treatment, at least one parent must be available around the clock to supervise meals and snacks, and monitor children between meals to make sure they do not burn off the calories with excessive exercise. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14571 - Posted: 10.19.2010

By ROBIN POGREBIN ANDREW AVRIN sits on a beige couch in a nondescript room, a fruit still-life partly visible on the wall behind him, twisting his fingers while, off-camera, an unseen interviewer prompts him to talk about his sister, Melissa, who died last year at the age of 19 after a long battle with bulimia. “There was no food in the house,” he says, looking off to the side as his eyes fill. “If I went out with friends, I could not bring leftovers home because they would be gone by the next morning.” Once, he explains, in the middle of a bitterly cold night, he looked out the window and saw Melissa on the curb, going through the garbage. “I went outside and I yelled her name,” he recounts in the interview, his voice breaking. “Just the way she looked back at me — it was so empty, vacant. It was a deer in the headlights, but that doesn’t even explain it.” It is a hard scene for anyone to watch, but even more so for the film’s producer — Judy Avrin, Melissa’s mother, who decided to make a documentary about her daughter’s life and, ultimately, her death. People deal with grief in their own ways, and those who have been spared the loss of a daughter or a son can only imagine how they would choose to try to cope. For Ms. Avrin, coping meant confronting her anguish and trying to make something good come out of it. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 14007 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By GARDINER HARRIS, BENEDICT CAREY and JANET ROBERTS When Anya Bailey developed an eating disorder after her 12th birthday, her mother took her to a psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota who prescribed a powerful antipsychotic drug called Risperdal. Created for schizophrenia, Risperdal is not approved to treat eating disorders, but increased appetite is a common side effect and doctors may prescribe drugs as they see fit. Anya gained weight but within two years developed a crippling knot in her back. She now receives regular injections of Botox to unclench her back muscles. She often awakens crying in pain. Isabella Bailey, Anya’s mother, said she had no idea that children might be especially susceptible to Risperdal’s side effects. Nor did she know that Risperdal and similar medicines were not approved at the time to treat children, or that medical trials often cited to justify the use of such drugs had as few as eight children taking the drug by the end. Just as surprising, Ms. Bailey said, was learning that the university psychiatrist who supervised Anya’s care received more than $7,000 from 2003 to 2004 from Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal’s maker, in return for lectures about one of the company’s drugs. Doctors, including Anya Bailey’s, maintain that payments from drug companies do not influence what they prescribe for patients. Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 10282 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Alison Motluk Anorexia and ecstasy use activate some of the same brain pathways, according to researchers who used mice to arrive at their conclusions. The findings hint that the condition works in a similar way to drug addiction, and may also point the way towards new drugs treatments for the eating disorder. Those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa restrict their food intake even though they may be in desperate need of energy. The condition has one of the highest mortality rates for any mental disorder, and there are few effective treatments currently available. Valerie Compan at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Montpellier, France, is one of a growing number of researchers who believes that anorexia works in a similar way to addiction and that sufferers become "hooked" on the self-control involved. After noticing that ecstasy (also called MDMA) use induces appetite suppression, she decided to investigate possible similarities further. Compan and colleagues focused on the nucleus accumbens, a reward centre in the brain with a high density of serotonin receptors – known as 5-HT4 receptors – that are known to play a role in addictive behaviour. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 10800 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Out-of-control binge eating is a widespread eating disorder in the US, and more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, according to the first national survey of such disorders. Binge eating afflicts 3.5% of US women and 2.0% of men at some point in their lives, the survey of more than 9000 people revealed. By comparison, it found that 0.9% of women and 0.3% of men reported having suffered from anorexia nervosa – a disorder characterised by an obsessive desire to be thin. And 1.5% of women and 0.5% of men reported the condition of bulimia, in which binge eating is followed by self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. "The most striking finding is the emergence of binge eating as a major public-health problem," says study leader James Hudson of Harvard’s McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, US. Binge eating is defined as occurring when people cannot stop from eating well beyond the point of being full at least twice a week. Hudson believes it is a chronic and persistent condition in the US that is under-reported and under-diagnosed. Researchers say that this type of bingeing is contributing to a rise in obesity. "I suspect that the connection that we have drawn in this study is just the tip of the iceberg of the problem of out-of-control eating and its relationship to obesity," Hudson says. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 9912 - Posted: 06.24.2010

CHICAGO – Women who have had a certain type of anorexia nervosa show an alteration of the activity of a chemical in their brain that is widely associated with anxiety and other affective disorders more than one year after recovery, according to a study in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Anorexia nervosa, a disorder characterized by the relentless pursuit of thinness and obsessive fear of being fat, has two subtypes, a group that restricts their eating (restricting-type AN) and a group that alternates restrictive eating with bulimic symptoms such as episodes of purging and/or binge eating (bulimia-type AN), according to background information in the article. Previous evidence has suggested that alterations in the activity of serotonin (a brain chemical involved in communication between nerve cells) may contribute to the appetite alteration in anorexia nervosa as well as playing a role in anxious, obsessional behaviors and extremes of impulse control. Ursula F. Bailer, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, and colleagues compared the activity of serotonin in women who had recovered from each of the two types of anorexia nervosa and a control group of healthy women using positron emission tomography (PET). The researchers injected a molecule that can bind to a serotonin receptor in much the same way that serotonin does into specific areas of the women's brains and used PET scans to measure the extent of the molecule-receptor binding. This molecule-receptor binding served as a marker for alterations of serotonin neuronal activity. Thirteen women recovered from restricting-type AN, 12 women with bulimia-type AN and 18 healthy control women were included in the study.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 7849 - Posted: 06.24.2010

PITTSBURGH, – Just why those with anorexia nervosa are driven to be excessively thin and seem unaware of the seriousness of their condition could be due to over-activity of a chemical system found in a region deep inside the brain, a University of Pittsburgh study suggests. Reporting in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers found an over-activity of dopamine receptors in the brain's basal ganglia, an area known to play a role in how people learn from experience and make choices. Results of the study, led by Walter Kaye, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Guido Frank, M.D., now of the University of California at San Diego, contribute to the understanding of what may cause anorexia. The disorder affects about 1 percent of American women, some of whom die from complications of the disease. The research may point to a molecular target for development of more effective treatments than those currently available. The study is the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to assess the activity of brain dopamine receptors, a neurotransmitter system that is best known for its role in controlling movement. These receptors also are associated with weight and feeding behaviors and responses to reinforcement and reward. Researchers used a harmless molecule designed to bind to the dopamine D2 and D3 receptors that lie on the membrane surface of neurons. Ten women who had recovered from anorexia nervosa for more than a year were studied, as were 12 normal female subjects. Because malnourishment affects brain chemistry, the researchers did not include acutely ill women in their study.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 7605 - Posted: 06.24.2010

CHICAGO – Malnutrition resulting from anorexia nervosa may cause emphysema, according to research presented today at the 89th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). For the first time, researchers used a new method of assessing computed tomography (CT) scans to analyze the lungs of anorexic patients and found that malnutrition changes the physical structure of the lung. "There is a reduction in the amount of lung tissue in patients with anorexia nervosa," said Harvey O. Coxson, Ph.D., lead author of the study from Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in Canada. "It is unclear whether these structural changes are permanent," he said, "but if they are, early therapy is important in patients who have anorexia." Dr. Coxson is an assistant professor of radiology at the University of British Columbia and an investigator at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute at VGH and at the James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 4641 - Posted: 06.24.2010

A brief non-judgmental interview and feedback session designed to enhance people's motivation to change their behavior added to a self-help program appears to be effective in treating some people with two common types of eating disorders –bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. The finding comes from an as yet unpublished University of Washington doctoral dissertation and also suggests that the session, which uses a technique called motivational interviewing, may be a cost effective way of providing assistance to a population that is particularly resistant to treatment. People with eating disorders are extremely difficult to treat and are "often ambivalent about seeking treatment," said UW psychology doctoral student Erin Dunn. "Most people with eating disorders don't seek treatment on their own. They are indecisive about change and generally seek help when prompted through family, friends or a physician."

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 4176 - Posted: 06.24.2010

RICHMOND, VA, – A team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have linked an area of chromosome 10p to families with a history of bulimia nervosa, providing strong evidence that genes play a determining role in who is susceptible to developing the eating disorder. The finding, gleaned from blood studies of 316 patients with bulimia and their family members, is the result of the first multinational collaborative genome-wide linkage scan to look exclusively at bulimia. Earlier this year, another linkage scan found evidence of genes for the eating disorder anorexia nervosa on chromosome 1. This study, led by Walter H. Kaye, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and authored by Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., a professor in VCU's Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, VA, appears today in the online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics. It will be published in the Jan. 1, 2003 print edition.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 3162 - Posted: 06.24.2010

CHICAGO – Group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is equally as effective as group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating binge eating disorder, according to an article in the August issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Binge eating disorder (BED) affects 1.5 percent to 2 percent of the general population. BED is characterized by frequent and persistent episodes of overeating, or bingeing where the patient looses the ability to control how much food he or she eats. Bingeing episodes are usually accompanied by feelings of loss of control, distress and guilt. CBT has been the standard therapy for treating BED and focuses on changing unwanted behaviors and the thoughts that are associated with them. CBT requires that the patient complete a considerable amount of homework, such as practicing behavior changing techniques and writing assignments. IPT is a brief, structured psychotherapy that explores social and interpersonal problems.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 2480 - Posted: 06.24.2010

PITTSBURGH, – A multi-center, international collaborative team of researchers is the first to identify a region on chromosome 1 that may contain genes that make an individual vulnerable to developing anorexia nervosa (AN). The findings add to a growing body of research supporting the belief that genetic transmission – in addition to psychosocial factors – contributes to a person’s vulnerability to develop AN. The study, in the March issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, is the first genome-wide linkage analysis of eating disorders and uses an affected relative pair research method that looks for genes that run in families where two or more people have a disorder. Results from a linkage study provide stronger evidence of a genetic basis for an illness than those from population-based association studies, where people with a disorder are compared with samples from the general population.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 1677 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By ABBY ELLIN The year was 1988, and I was a college student on my junior year abroad, traveling aimlessly through the Middle East and Europe. My backpack was crammed with shorts and T-shirts, bathing suits and sarongs, my Walkman and Grateful Dead tapes. And oh, yes, a scale, buried deep beneath layers of socks. Having been a chubby adolescent — and having spent six summers at fat camp — I was terrified of gaining weight. Unfortunately, nothing gave me as much pleasure as eating, which I did with abandon. To maintain some semblance of control, I divided my eating into Food Days and Nonfood Days: that is, days when I consumed vast amounts, and days when I policed my caloric intake with military precision. The routine kept my weight in check, more or less. Never mind that it was insane. No one at my college health center knew what to do with me. Clearly, I wasn’t anorexic; I was slightly round, in fact. I didn’t purge, so bulimia was out. To my distress, the counselors told me there was nothing they could do for me and sent me on my way. Today, I would probably qualify for a diagnosis of “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” usually known by its acronym, Ednos. In the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it encompasses virtually every type of eating problem that is not anorexia or bulimia. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 13690 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By RANDI HUTTER EPSTEIN Margie Hodgin, a nurse in Kernersville, N.C., had struggled to lose weight since she was a teenager. But it wasn't until she turned 40 that she finally took off the extra pounds, and then some. Margie Hodgin, a nurse in Kernersville, N.C., had struggled to lose weight since she was a teenager. But it wasn’t until she turned 40 that she finally took off the extra pounds, and then some. “It was a real sense of empowerment, that I can do this all on my own and no one is helping me, and I’m achieving what I want and fitting into my clothes better,” she said of her initial delight in shedding the excess weight. But what started as discipline transformed into disorder. Ms. Hodgin would not eat more than 200 calories a meal, and if she did, she made herself vomit. She surfed pro-ANA, or pro-anorexia, Web sites for advice. She knew that what she was doing was wrong — more like adolescent, she said — but she figured she was only hurting herself. Meanwhile, her chronic state of starvation was triggering wild mood swings. It was only after she and her husband had several therapy sessions that she came to realize that her eating disorder was wreaking havoc on him, as well as their three boys. Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 13053 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By Trisha Gura A recent tabloid captured the common wisdom about anorexia nervosa. In an interview, actor Christina Ricci blamed the pressures of success for her prior struggle with the disease. The headline flashed, “Ricci: Hollywood made me anorexic.” But did it? True, anorexia is characterized by compulsive dieting or exercise to get thin. And the pursuit of thinness in contemporary culture—particularly in Hollywood—has become a seemingly contagious obsession. Yet there is thin, and then there is emaciated. Crossing over that line means a loss of a basic survival instinct—to eat in response to hunger—that culture should not be able to touch. What is more, cultural cues cannot easily explain why the afflicted, who are shockingly skinny, misperceive themselves as fat. Anorexics also say they feel more energetic and alert when starving: starvation boosts their metabolic rate, which is in stark contrast to the slowing of metabolism that occurs in most people during a fast. Such mysteries cry out for a biological explanation. To find one, researchers are probing the brains of anorexics; their work is painting a new picture of anorexia as a multifaceted mental illness whose effects extend far beyond appetite. The illness is accompanied by disturbances in the brain’s reward circuitry that may lead to a general inability to feel delight from life’s pleasures, be they food, sex or winning the lottery. As such, the ailment shares characteristics with drug addiction—the drug in this case being deprivation itself. © 1996-2008 Scientific American Inc

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 11711 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN You don’t have to search very hard to find the excruciating online videos known as thinspiration, or thinspo. Photomontages of skeletal women, including some celebrities and models, play all over the Internet, uploaded from the United States, Germany, Holland and elsewhere. These videos are designed to “inspire” viewers — to fortify their ambitions. But exactly which ambitions? To lose weight, presumably. To stop losing weight, possibly. Thinspo videos profess a range of ideologies, often pressing morbid images into double service, as both goads and deterrents to anorexia. Thinspiration videos are a cryptic art with rigid rules, as much a formula as a form. As listless, pounding or archly chipper music plays, still photos of one wraith after another surface and fade. The women are generally solitary and sullen, or entirely faceless. Bony self-portraits, created in bathroom mirrors by anonymous photographers, have faces that have been obscured or cropped out. Many figures in the videos are supine, as in the pervasive hipbone self-portrait, which seems to be shot by a photographer on her back aiming a camera at her abdomen and the waistband of her jeans. A bird’s-eye shot of the thighless legs of a seated figure is also common. The soundtracks to thinspiration videos, some of which feature songs explicitly about starvation, are not subtle. Skeleton, you are my friend. I will sacrifice all I have in life. Bones are beautiful. Hey, baby, can you bleed like me? Filmmakers are reticent with commentary. If they explain their images in any way, it’s with oddly peppy title cards (“Enjoy!” “Thanks for watching!”) or a series of unsigned quotations, compiled as if for a commonplace book. A thinspiration auteur makes her voice heard almost exclusively through these cards, and she sometimes uses them to plead with her audience to go easy on her work or to stay tuned for further thinspo. I’ve never seen a thinspo video with a voice-over or even moving images. Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 11666 - Posted: 06.24.2010