Do parents cause eating disorders? See the video

Give me 3 minutes and I think I can make you either smile or scream.

Earlier this year, I interviewed a number of eating disorder experts on camera. I've compiled a short video with some clips from those interviews, on the question, "Do parents cause eating disorders?"

There will be more videos to come, and I welcome you to send me video or voice clips describing your experiences with guilt or blaming in eating disorders. Your video can be of you talking, or of your dinner table while you are talking, or hand puppets if you like.


  1. I cannot express how much I LOVE this! It is my experience that parents cannot and have not heard enough times that they are not the cause of the eating disorder and that they are part of the solution!!!!!!

  2. I'm stuck on the let's-make-a-video-with-hand-puppets part.


    Love the video, Laura.

  3. Of course parents don't cause eating disorders, and their suffering and that others close to an ED victim heartbreaking. But most heartbreaking of all is the perpetuation of the belief that as many as 1 in 10 girls in our country have been suddenly afflicted with a mental/brain disorder. That's not true, either.

  4. Well done Laura! If people need to see what experts think, you've handed them a group of respected folks to tell them. And that of a parent too.

    Puppets do sound like fun. I'm with Carrie.

  5. One of the main premises of utilizing Maudsley based treatment is maintaining a NO BLAME attitude therefore I believe that in order for a clinician/provider to effectively employ Maudsley treatment they need to first and foremost buy into and acceptant full heartedly that PARENTS DON'T CAUSE EATING DISORDERS. I am on board with spreading, sharing and actively working towards educating people about this to confront this myth and therefore empower parents, patients and providers to jointly work together at fighting against ED.

  6. Hi Laura

    You might want to make your readers aware of this

    it's the DSM V prelude project and there calling for input and suggestions for the new Diagnostical and Statistical Manual (due for release in 2011) from both Doctors and Laypeople.

  7. i find the whole idea of trying to find "THE cause" for an experience as complex as eating disorders is a difficult endeavour.

    apart from that, i have to say, laura, that usually i don't like videos - often just minutes and minutes of hot air - but this one is GOOD! will stumble it forthwith.

  8. Sorry! This video is just too one-sided. I don't buy this one bit.

    Anybody can get together a bunch of doctors/experts to support a position which absolves him/herself of blame. I am sure there are far more doctors/experts who believe the exact opposite.

    Or why not follow around and video a parent and child (especially a mother and daughter), secretly, for 5 years before an ED starts?

    I have two close friends who berate, scold, admonish, nag, browbeat, threaten, criticize, dictate to and put down their children constantly, yes, constantly, even in front of strangers and in public. There is strong pressure to live up to the parents' expectations. It is no wonder that they each have an anorexic daughter - one in her early teens and the other 21 years.

    Parents may think they love their child dearly, but an overbearing, smothering love can be more destructive than neglect. If a parent is going to micromanage and dominate and control every aspect of their child's life, the child may begin to focus on something over which they can and will have control - their body.

    It gives them a sense of power over their otherwise hijacked lives. Deep down inside they may have a vague realisation about what they're doing to themselves, but their pseudo parent unfailingly jumps out and scolds and threatens them into sticking to the goal. Many victims tell of an inner voice scolding and mocking them. And where does this pseudo parent come from? It is based on the closest parent role model they know - their own parents.

    I'm sorry to say this, but the woman in the video is in denial, since she had not or did not want to honestly examine her relationship with her child. It is a fact that children learn from and pick up traits/habits from their parents. Anorexics are classic cases of denial and self-delusion.

    With this kind of denial from the parent and without resolving the root issues, the child may recover but will relapse. Already happened to one friend's daughter.

    You people can dream on!

  9. In this, as in so many of life's struggles, it seems that we all tend towards a black or white view of the world. What about the idea that rather than either blame OR exonorate parents, we look at both the 'hard-wiring' (nature) and 'adaptive learning' (nuture) aspects of the development of eating disordered behaviors? That we acknowledge that parents are the most important teachers of learning-how-to-live-in-the-world, more than other caregivers, schools, peers, or the media? That we take a comprehensive approach to understanding the development of eating disorders as involving both underlying physiological components as well as learned behaviors that are used as ways to manage living? In this way, we are able to engage medically, psychologically, nutritionally, and with family dynamics to help a person with an eating disorder to heal.


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