It's Not About The Food


January/February 2011


The Truth About Eating Disorders

By Lisa Ferentz

Early in my career the mere mention of an eating disorder by a prospective client would make my appointment book magically fill up. The studies I'd read indicated that 66 percent of clients with anorexia, bulimia, and bingeing and purging relapsed within the first year, and that their mortality rate, at 20 percent, was the highest of any psychiatric disorder. So I lumped eating-disordered clients with other "treatment-resistant" patients—like "borderlines"—to be avoided at all cost by any savvy private practitioner. But even the most vigilant initial screening could protect an anxious therapist only so much. Thus, it wasn't until an afternoon many months into treatment that I discovered that one of my favorite clients had an eating disorder. Molly was a smart, talented, beautiful, 17-year-old redhead, who got straight A's, starred in all the school plays, and scored winning points on the soccer and lacrosse teams. She'd first come to see me because, despite all outward appearances of success, her parents had began to sense a "personality change" in her. In the past year, their accommodating and easygoing child had become unusually irritable and belligerent. She was fighting with her mother, refusing to participate in family outings, and distancing herself from her closest friends. The therapeutic task seemed clear and quite familiar: to help Molly through the developmental angst of adolescence.

Even…

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