Non Causa Pro Causa

Did you take logic at school? Some people clearly didn't.

"Overprotective dad may be anorexia risk factor"

I can hear fathers all over the world weeping as they read their morning paper. Keep reading guys, it gets worse. If you are "underprotective" you're still in the bulls-eye: it's bulimia for your daughter.

OK. Let's review the logical fallacies.

It strikes me that the self-fulfilling prophecy of identifying parent causation of eating disorders is the phrenology of modern psychiatry.


  1. OMG it is so appaling what passes for science in the treatment of this disease--I am sure if you had asked my duaghter at the height of her Maudsley treament, or possibly even now, "were your parents over-controlling" she would say "yes, they never leave me alone for a minute, I can't leave the house without them except to go to school, and they tell me what to eat and when to eat it". Of course, the pediatrician and our Maudsley therapist would say--"absolutely right, and if they don't do that you will end up right back in the hospital"

    My condolences to all the Dad's out there who have to put up with the pain of not only having an ill duaghter but reading this stuff!

  2. If overly controlling dads were the problem, you'd expect that therapy based on that hypothesis would have shown its effectiveness by now. But it's been tried for fifty years and has failed.
    If I'm wrong, please let me know by posting on this site a reference to a peer reviewed scientifically reliable study showing that any therapies based on these concepts has had any measurable effectiveness.

    By the way, maybe I'm just a controlling dad, but I'd like to see someone do a comparable study of ED therapists. Why do so many of them resist new ideas such as Maudsley, cling to ineffective treatments, rely on speculation rather than empirical evidence, and refuse to educate themselves on the basics of genetics and neuroscience.
    Might there be a little denial and avoidance going on? Might these traits be interfering with effective treatment?

  3. I guess the lab rats had overly controlling dads too ;>) (See Laura's post on Nov. 16)

  4. I think though that a certain family situation can CONTRIBUTE to an ED -- I have definately seen that with many of the girls in the program I attend -- but it certainly didn't cause their ED. . .

    So as you say Laura, there is correlation but not causation -- that is a bit extreme. . .

    But you still cannot rule out family influence entirely, as much as it may be hurtful to some parents.

    For example, my parents alcoholism heavily contributed to the development of my ED -- but it certinaly did not CAUSE it

    A :)

  5. A :),

    I'd call the things you mention "maintaining factors." Regardless of what got you ill, recovery requires a healthy environment with loads of support - if those aren't present then recovery is hampered.

    And lots of people don't live in helpful environments.

  6. True true -- perciptating factors and perpetuating factors -- that is true :)


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