Dr. Cynthia Bulik was on the bill at yesterday's Congressional Briefing organized by the Eating Disorders Coalition.

Yesterday Bulik gave a 20-minute talk that, I believe, should be required material for everyone involved with the eating disorders world. Some people will cheer. Others will be confused, having never heard any of what is clearly established science. Some, frankly, will be angry; but it is time for a meaningful engagement on all this, and then an end to debate. It is time for consensus among those responsible for the lives of patients.

In the past, Bulik told Congressional staff, eating disorders were wrongly blamed on families, on the individual, or on society. These causes seemed plausible. But "plausibility is just too convenient."

"These are not disorders of choice."

Genetic relatives of eating disorder patients have a 7-12 times greater risk of also having an eating disorder.

"The major contributor is genetics. Not family environment, not choice."

Why does this matter?
  • Because it destigmatizes the illness
  • Because it means we can, and should, mention eating disorders whenever we talk about other mental illness
  • Because it empowers parents and sufferers
  • Because this knowledge improves treatment and insurance coverage
  • Because it underscores the seriousness of the illness
  • Because genetics research needs research dollars.
Bulik has identified enough genetic samples "already in the freezer" for genome-wide eating disorder studies that could revolutionize the way we understand AND TREAT eating disorders.

"We are in the middle of a landmark year in genetics," Bulik says. "Funding is the only obstacle."


  1. THANK YOU Laura for reporting on this briefing.
    Is it possible to get a copy of Dr. Bulik's talk?
    Was there discussion of how to increase funding for genetics research, either through the NIH/NIMH budget, or by direct Congressional action?

  2. This is fantastic to read, Laura! I 2nd the "thanks" for the posting and reaffirmation for those of us in the trenches.


  3. I was going to write the same thing. How can I get a copy of Dr. Bulik's comments? I'd like to add them to my packet of materials I am handing out.

  4. Dr. Bulik read your question and said she is working on creating a copy to make available. I will let you know when it is available!

  5. I noted your comment and answered in my Blog
    : “I am glad you raised the question of volitionality. I probably need to emphasize that I use the word “cult” for one good reason. My understanding is that no one voluntarily joins a cult. It is the cult’s brainwashing technique that induces unsuspecting followers to join and even to die.

    Genetic predisposition has been used in medicine for as long as I can remember to explain why some people get ill and some people do not. I can only quote J. D. Bernal: There are two futures, the future of desire and the future of fate, and man's reason has never learnt to separate them.”

    The Cockroach Catcher


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