AN in THIS century

The parents at the "Around the Dinner Table" online forum are talking about the video presentation posted online featuring Dr. Sloan Madden in Australia on the neurobiology of anorexia nervosa.

Among the tidbits to watch for: what is known and NOT known about the brain and AN, a bit of gossip about different approaches, and Madden's way of making the idea that media or parents or patients cause EDs seem so last century.

Stick around for the Q&A at the end - it's worth it.

(Thanks to Carolin G. for introducing us all to the video!)


  1. Although culture and media may not play the primary role, it seems to be important. What are your thoughts on Anne Becker's research in Fiji?

  2. Hi anonymous -- I read the abstracts of Becker's work in Fiji, not the entire papers, but the abstracts don't seem to suggest a role of culture or media in the development or maintence of anorexia nervosa. Becker studied Fijian women between 1989 and 1998, a period of time when they became exposed to TV and other nontraditional media influences. During that time, the rate of what she calls "overweight" and "obese" women went from 60% to 84%. So, rather than causing an increase in anorexia, the cultural and media influences seemed to be associated with an increase in average weight. But even that is an association, not causation. Moreover, while Becker notes an increase during that time of "disordered eating attitudes and behaviors" I could not find any evidence of a corresponding increase in the prevalence of anorexia nervosa. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

  3. I haven' got to the end of it yet, but now that I've got over the surprise of a MALE psychiatrist called Sloan (I guess it's a cultural thing, in this country a man of his status would undoubtedly be called something like James or Jonathan) I'm finding it fascinating.

    One thing that's really jumped out at me so far was the statement "The cognitive deficits in people who are starved do resolve with refeeding but the emotional deficits don't" - THAT's just sooo obvious when watching my daughter. Just imagine how awful it is for the sufferer - all the emotional difficulties, with none of the numbing effects of the "solution"


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