The power of "and"

What do these two highly-publicized media stories have in common?

Mom charged with neglect in adult daughter's death
Mom: My Daughter was Bullied into Anorexia

Both stories are tragically in need of the word "and."

People can be abused AND have a mental illness. People can be bullied AND have a mental illness. AND is not the same as SO. Let's not confuse AND with SO, because it often leads to the correlary: you have an eating disorder SO you have been abused or bullied or otherwise victimized. Let's care about bullying and abuse AND eating disorders without seeing the relationship as cause and effect.

I would argue that being abused or neglected or bullied make one's mental illness that much more tragic. The mentally ill are, in fact, often victimized by those around them. Parents who themselves are ill cannot serve well as guardians and nurturers of children, and mentally ill children desperately need safety and loving homes. Bullies pick on those most vulnerable to their cruelty: and any child who is different is more likely to be targeted.


  1. link doesn't work on first news article you list here

  2. Yipes! Thank you - now fixed.

  3. I think one reason people don't see help for their mental illness is because they WEREN'T abused, so they think there's "no excuse" for their behavior. I had a happy childhood, and was never abused in any way, and yet I have a plethora of problems. But I feel sometimes like my problems "aren't bad enough". Abuse doesn't cause mental illness, it just exacerbates it.

  4. The thing is that although the article says that the cause of death was anorexia nervosa and malnutrition, the rest of the text makes it seem more like her parents were starving her...

  5. That is one of saddest, most bizarre stories I've ever heard. I'm slightly confused though. It's obvious that her parents were starving her yet they also described her as having suffered from AN. I'm not convinced that she really had an eating disorder so it doesn't seem like an "and" is warranted in this case. It's more like "Mother murdered/neglected adult daughter" period. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

  6. I am curious if there are any parents out there who have been accused of or if there are any studies available about parents that have been charged with abuse & neglect by child protective agencies when doctors recommended in-patient mental or physical hospitalization for ED and parents elected to use home feeding as the therapeutic mode along with medical follow-up.

  7. I have heard of this happening a few times, but not ever heard of it going beyond an investigation.

    I would advise any parent to take very good notes and keep records on everything they do during care - keep a log of calls and contacts. Make sure to have at least one professional (doctor, therapist, social worker..) who is aware of what you are doing and will stand up for you. That person does not need to be local - ours was an hour away and we only saw him every six months. And, of course, make sure you are doing things that ARE defensible and can back that up with data.

  8. I would hope that if the parents weren't able to successfuly refeed (i.e. within week or two the weight isn't beginning to trend upwards), that the parents are then willing to switch to inpatient hospitalization until the patient is out of the danger zone. But I would hope that no one would ever be charged with abuse or neglect for trying to refeed at home first, since the Maudsley method has such good evidence behind it.

  9. I must say that the I have several problems with the second link.

    The lady is suing the school because she alleges her daughter developed anorexia from bullying. I feel that is making anorexia and eating disorders in general way too simple. I don't feel that anyone really develops an eating disorder because of one thing, I also feel they have to be predisposed.

    Her daughter's anorexia got so severe it led to the point of hospitalization. Now, the school may not have dealt with the bullying, but are they really at fault for the eating disorder, let alone it having progressed to the point of IP being necessary? It seems it should have been discovered sooner than that point and I'm not sure as to how it's the school's fault.

    I think you're absolutely right that she was bullied AND then developed anorexia.

  10. Unless any of you have been bullied and suffered from an eating disorder I don't think that you are qualified to comment on the thought processes of someone who has. Personally my anorexia was directly linked to being bullied. I believe in genetic predisposition but I don't think I would have ended up with an eating disorder without that major trigger at exactly the wrong time. Plus, a lot of the reinforcing factors for my eating disorder were to do with being bullied - things like wanting to be invisible, the way that restricting made me numb so blocked out the traumatic memories, the feeling of self sufficiency and independence from other people. Bullying was definitely a causative factor in my case.

  11. I am so deeply sorry about the bullying. I, too, was bullied and though there is no value in comparing our experiences I do empathize with yours.

    I am not arguing that bullying does not damage us, or that it does not affect our thoughts and behaviors. Of course bullying hurts and harms us. Many of us withdraw, avoid, hurt ourselves, or become bullies ourselves. In your case it sounds as if you found solace in eating disorder behaviors.

    The way I look at that is that you had an underlying brain condition that - in combination with stress and eating disorder behaviors - triggered and took on a life of its own.

    Kind of like how one person may drink alcohol after a bad experience, wake up and not drink the next day, but another would trigger alcoholism and not be able to stop drinking.

    What makes us 'take up the drink' or 'start the diet' differs. What happens in our brains when we do so has more to do with how our brains are structured.

    Your pain at being bullied isn't only important because it triggered your eating disorder, that pain is important PERIOD. You deserved help and healing from the bullying regardless of the eating disorder. Your eating disorder needed treatment whether or not you had been bullied. Since they happened together, the treatment would probably involve both. That is what I mean by "and."

  12. I'm sorry, I think I probably misunderstood what you meant in my comment. I believe the same thing you wrote in your reply, I guess it's just a touchy subject. Thank you for explaining, it really touched me that you made the effort after I was a bit argumentative. I wish more people with eating disorders had parents like you.

  13. My children would probably love to swap me out to another family sometimes!!

    I believe discussion and argument are NECESSARY, or all we do is sit around repeating ourselves to others who already agree. It is GOOD to talk and argue - that's how I learn, and that is why I am thankful to YOU for arguing with me!


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