Why the Internet is a dangerous place

Why the Internet needs a truth squad: because this kind of crap is still so common:

Family Influences

Send me your favorite false information quotes. I'm collecting them for a video.


  1. I thinnk that you cannot rule out family factors altogether.

    Yes, ED's are biological illnesses and have a genetic basis. However, there still has to be SOME environmental causation of and ED to exist.

    Sometimes this IS the family. There is no ifs ans or buts -- but that is not to say the family cannot be part of the solution.

    ED's are not a black and while problem -- not simply biological vs. psychological.

    It IS true that things are learned in the home at a young age. And it IS statistically proven that families with a history of drug/alcohol abuse or disordered eating have a higher incidence of ED's in children.

    However, does this mean we blame the family? No!

    We can merely acknowledge that the family was PART of a myriad of causes that began the ED. Not for everyone, but for some.

    A :)

  2. "Boys can't get anorexia, it's just depression." --insurance provider

    Actually, there were so many false (and so very crappy) things told to us when our (then) 9-year-old son was first diagnosed. In fact, I'm trying not to hear them every damn day.

  3. A:), There are a lot of causes that need to be tossed out. Parents, fears of oral impregnation, religious piety.. and most of all we have to stop blaming the sufferer. And by saying that a person succumbs to outside pressures to develop a life-threatening illness is blaming the sufferer.

    Mimi, that's bad. Real bad. I look forward to the day when that doesn't happen any more.

  4. I have to agree with a :) on this one - I do think that families can play a part in an ED. That's not to say they are the cause, or are to blame, but in some cases they can contribute. In addition, not being willing to recognise that your child has a problem early enough can make things worse (I do appreciate it must be very difficult and frightening to admit that your loved one has such a terrible disorder).

    Perhaps I say this because my view is a little different from yours - if I was the parent of a child with an ED I would never want to even entertain the notion that I was in any way responsible. Please don't misunderstand me here - I'm not saying that any of you are responsible and are in denial! I would hate for my parents to feel at all responsible for this, because I do not think that that is the case.

    Having said that, my dad regularly makes derogatory comments about my weight, and they do add fuel to my eating disorder and anorexic thoughts. However, he does the same to my sisters and none of them have any eating issues whatsoever... Go figure.

    I truly hope this doesn't offend. Just my 2 cents.

  5. "Leave it to the professionals" was one I was told years back and it always resonates with me as one of the stupidest lies ever told. As if any of us willing to get our hands dirty lack the "something" they have and should step away from the "box". I don't think so!

    I'm not sure I can find it on the net but I'm sure I've heard this phrase at least once in relation to child raising. I believe it's one of the biggest problems.....parents being undermined so that they look better or worse in order to earn trust. It should never be at our expense of far more damage is done at the professionals hands.

  6. "It's not about the food."
    "Don't be the food police."
    "It's easier for a child to talk about why they stopped eating if they don't have to look their parents in the eye."

    I've read or been told all of these.

  7. I'm not saying that environmental pressures CAUSE an ED. Only that family CAN be partially responsible or hinder recovery.

    Fears of oral impregnation, religious piety -- these were theories of the 1800 and early 1900's and are in no way relevant today. I don't think you can compare them with family causation which has been studied.

    If someone with a hereditary risk of skin cancer sunbathes everyday -- their risk of developing cancer increases. You could say that their unprotected sun exposure CONTRIBUTED to their development of an ED, and if they had taken proper care, they may have avoided it entirely.

    Similarly, vulnerable persons in an unstable family situation may be prone to developing an ED IF (IF!) they have a genetic predisposition.

    This is truly not about blaming the parents Laura. And it is not about saying that the parents cannot be part of the solution. This is also not for EVERY case. It doesn't mean parents are the SOLE cause of an ED or even if they ARE partly responsible at all.

    It just means that family factors may play SOME role in development.

    Is this so hard to believe or even tolerate?

    A :)

  8. And this is also not about blaming the suffer. Looking for predisposing or preciptating factors of mental illness is not playing the blame game. It's merely facing reality.

    Are you suggesting the sufferers should be ASHAMED because of their "weakness" and "sensitivity" to environmental pressures (family, media, perfectionism, WHATEVER). That is like being ashamed because I have blond hair.

    A :)

  9. A :), I'm not sure where you would get that idea from what I've said but let me make it really, really clear: I'm not saying let the parents off and blame the patient,I am saying THERE IS NO ONE TO BLAME.

    I'm saying if you've got the biological makeup for an ED then even the most normal and functional life and family can trigger an ED. I'm saying patients need to be recognized as HEROIC for every little effort they make toward recovery BUT THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO be in charge of their recovery when they are not ready. I'm saying parents and caregivers need to STEP UP and not waste energy your precious child needs you to spend on them.

    The legacy of blaming parents has been based on bad science. It had no more basis than the oral impregnation thing (except in misunderstanding cause and effect - sometimes the parents have EDs or related traits, too). It was fashionable, but it has also been rejected by modern researchers. The head of the NIMH says we need a day of atonement for that legacy of blaming parents.

  10. My now 16 year old, at the age of 3 was diagnosed with autism. In 1995 it was the very tail end of parents being blamed for their childs autism. I was lucky enough to not hear that it was my fault until after I'd already learned it wasn't.

    There were a lot of 'treatments' for autism at the time ... many of them draining the pockets and savings of parents desperate to not be blamed for their child's autism ... and in the meantime ..the parents were foregoing the one treatment that was truely showing progress and hope.

    40 hours a week (yes, FORTY HOURS A WEEK) of intense behavioral and educational care ...from parent to child ... and some outside intervention from occupational therapists in a specific therapy called "Sensory Integration"

    A child psychologist (the only one we consulted) told me that I was going to drive him further into his autistic world ...and farther away from us as parents ..and the key was to let go, and let him into his own little world.
    That made no sense to me.

    We did the 40 hours a week ..and we worked with him and we worked with him and we worked with him ...and we got him the sensory integration therapy (thank GOD FOR insurance that covered it!!!)

    and something miraculous happened ...

    my son ..was not autistic. My son had a severe case of sensory integration dysfunction ...so severe he was lost in the world of over reaction and social isolation. He WAS for all intense and purposes ...autistic. HAD I bought the theory at the time ...and hands off, and let 'the professionals handled it'

    I would still have an autistic son.

    Instead, I have a 16 year old who is, sensory sensitive, socially active (girl CRAZY and girls are crazy about him! he has ...a Bevy ..the teachers call the group ...Benjamin's Bevy) slightly academically delayed (note slightly) and extraoridianrily BRIGHT child ..who is ..by all accounts ... DELIGHTFUL, with plans to be a chef.

    I do not believe we 'cured' his autism, I believe he was mis diagnosed. But I believe many austic children are misdiagnosed, and the parents are blamed ...especially 15 years ago and beyond ...

    I did not follow the treatments that said 'let the autistic child have some space' ... but I got into my child's world ..and drug him into mine.

    The more I read here ...the more I see what Laura is trying to say is very very much like what I experienced with my son.

    My world is not normal. My sensory system in regards to food is not set right. My responses are not what they should be. My response to eating is very much like trying to get my young 4 year old into a pair of sweat pants ... my response is slightly more mature (ahem, really ...it is ..on the outside anyway)

  11. Laura,

    I have mixed feelings here. I understand what your position on EDs is, I do. But calling an article like crap is not only unprofessional, it makes your position seems as rigid as the people who wrote that article.

    I'll admit my bias: I majored in sociology and am very interested in social systems, how people infludence each other. I am uncomfortable with the genetics-only theory because it's one factor of many in a complex culture. And I'm not saying let's blame this person or that parent. I'm saying, let's take responsibility.

    If a parent teases or criticizes a child for chubbiness at puberty and then the child develops an ED, well, maybe the parent ought to reconsider his or her words. Again, I'm not saying blame, I'm saying, taking responsibility to treat each other in a more compassionate way.

    When I read this article, I certainly recognized m family. I don't the authors are writing crap, they're writing from a certain perspective, that's all. In my case, FBT would have been a disaster. I needed a parentectomy so I could figure who I was and get a hold on my own values. Going to college, getting therapy on campus helped a lot, but so did cultivating a true sense of independence.

    It's hard to be objective about EDs--I'm as emotional as anyone else when it comes to talking about my experience. But I see how many factors went into creating my exprience and that does include the type of family I came from.

  12. Reader,

    Crap is the flippant term I used instead of a harsher one, actually. Try to read that page from the perspective of a normal parent searching the Internet for help with their beloved and very ill child.

    Look at it this way: most people with dreadful childhoods don't get EDs. Most people who get EDs have dull, normal home lives. Are going to say that bad parenting is okay, and good parenting is bad?

    That page is hopelessly outdated theoretically, and will do damage to parents reading it. It will encourage guilt and shame and cripple a parent trying to help their child.

    I respect your work to recover - my dear daughter worked very hard to recover, too. It is hard work no matter how it gets done. I could not have been there for her in the same way if I believed the information on that page.

  13. Thank you for further explaining your position, Laura. It's still rather unique to hear from a parent on EDs and you do a great service in your effort to fill the gaps between clinician, ED sufferer, and parents.

  14. so... I guess this means that I wasn't affected by the alcoholic household and dysfunctional family I grew up in. Interesting. I guess that didn't contribute to me developing anorexia many years ago in high school. Wow. This is news to me...

  15. Anonymous,

    Of course your family life affected you. Of course an alcoholic and dysfunctional environment damaged you.

    And you deserve help and support and therapy and sympathy for that childhood.

    But just like having diabetes in a dysfunctional family environment, having an eating disorder in that environment makes getting well and staying well much harder.

  16. Ok. I don't think that's not what I'm trying to get at. Point being--- I whole heartedly believe, as do my parents, that the environment I grew up in (them being part of it) were an influence in me developing anorexia. While I definitely feel biology plays a role, it is absurd to say that parents/home life don't play a role. Am I saying they are 100% responsible? Of course not. I don't think 'blaming' anyone is the answer, and that's not what I'm trying to do. However, I do think it's necessary to examine the root of the problem...and how things develop. Family, being one of those things.

  17. The search for the roots of eating disorders has gone in many directions, but I don't believe they have been fruitful.

    There doesn't have to be a root cause. There doesn't have to be anyone to blame. There is just a problem, and a life in which that problem has arrived.


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