Let's Evolve!

In honor of Charles Darwin's publication of "The Origin of Species" on this day in 1859, let's talk science.

In reaction to Lauren Greenfield's HBO Documentary, THIN, the eating disorder world is balancing the mixed pleasures of public scrutiny and the dismayingly harsh light that scrutiny has wrought. We all want the media to talk about the topics we care about, but we don't always want to hear what they say.

Some treatment centers, initially supportive of the film, are circling the wagons to make it clear THIN isn't about them. Even the treatment center featured appears queasy. ED activists and advocacy organizations are eager to praise the film's honesty, but want everyone to know that the film left out all the good stuff: like hope, optimism, recovery, and context.

THIN is an artistic collage using floridly mentally ill people in the service of social commentary. It isn't an ad for a treatment approach, it isn't a documentary of the history or medicine of treatment, it isn't a public service announcement. It is art.

The film isn't good for people with eating disorders, it isn't good for family members seeking help, and I grieve for what it has and will do to the sufferers portrayed.

It goes without saying that the film isn't good for people like me who want DESPERATELY for the public to both understand eating disorders and also understand the treatment options and possibilities. For that, we cannot look to art, we must look at science.

The Academy of Eating Disorders has, in my opinion, the right idea: they collaborated with Wiley to post a list of articles of evidence-based therapies for the public. There aren't a lot. I vote for increasing the ratio of good studies to sensationalist media about eating disorders and other brain disorders. And my I also recommend this shocking bit of good sense and good science by our hero, Dr. Bulik, in Newsweek.


  1. Hi Laura, I had similar reactions to thin but I don't think it was all bad. It's not really helpful to people like you and me and potential patients, but it's good for the public at large, I think.

    My wife was sent inpatient with anorexia. Like yourself, I've got a blog detailing the recovery process.


  2. Hello Laura. I just found your blog and so am just getting to know you and your philosophy. I'm sure I'll be commenting more as I read more.

    I have a recovery blog at onbulimia.blogs.com, and I welcome you to come see what it's like from the perspective of bulimics themselves.

    I have been blogging for over 2 years and have been recovered from 14 years of bulimia for almost those full 2 years. I ended up recovering with the help of a professional coach and have never been an inpatient. But, many of my readers have been in inpatient centers (some more than once), and many of them have supported Thin as an accurate depiction of what it's like.

    Many of my readers have found some good from their experiences (like I encourage them to do in any situation -good or bad), but none learned how to recover there. Many ended up much worse afterwards. For that, I don't encourage people to seek inpatient treatment. I don't believe the "recovery industry" has really figured it all out yet. I believe people in inpatient centers are paying a LOT of money to basically be guinea pigs.

    I sympathize with you in your role as a parent, helpless to do much to help your child. Eating disorders are hell for everyone involved, that's for sure. It's probably worse for parents than for their children. I applaud you for doing SOMETHING and increasing awareness and getting people to talk about it. But, there is no simple solution for everyone just yet. There may never be.

    I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

    Thanks for all you do,
    Michelle Hope


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