Shell game

I'm dismayed by the shell game of blame.

If you say that it isn't about parenting, then you are accused of blaming the victim.

If you protest that it isn't about the media, you sound as if you are siding with size zero models.

Cite biology, and you are insulting patients who choose recovery.

I've been told that my belief that eating disorders are a biologically based illness is a pass for parents, ignorance of toxic media, denial, and discrediting my own child's work toward recovery.

We don't need someone or something to blame. We don't need blame. We know what patients need: they need food, they need unconditional support, they need a low-stress environment, they need skills to prevent relapse, and they need time.


  1. I don't see anything wrong with playing the blame game. Just because a disease is biologically based doesn't mean no one's fault. Sometimes the family IS at fault. Sometimes it's even the patient's fault for being sick. It's politically incorrect to say that but it's true. If I develop lung cancer as a result of smoking a pack of cigarettes every day can you honestly say it's not my fault? Of course not. Then there are people like my great grandfather, who's been smoking for fifty years and he's still alive at age 102. I also know an anorexic woman who feels "guilty" for having an ED because she had a great childhood with wonderful parents. So I understand that genes do play a role in developing or not developing a disease. Some people have really good genes and some people have bad genes but that doesn't mean that no one is at fault. I don't blame my mother for my ADHD but I do blame my ED on her. Abusive parents need to take responsibility for their actions. I don't want people like you patting her on the back and telling her, "It's not your fault. You're a great parent." If she had raised me in a "low-stress environment" in the first place I would never have gotten an ED.

  2. I think the parents who initially wonder, "Did I do something wrong?" are usually the good parents who are not at fault. The parents who NEVER question their own actions are obviously the bad parents who caused their child's ED. That's usually a pretty good litmus test.

  3. I don't blame your mother for your eating disorder. I do blame your mother for abusing/neglecting you!

    The last thing I would do is let someone off the hook for failing to protect and care for a young life in their care.

    Good parents fear they've failed. Bad parents do, too. I don't agree that it is a good test, I'm afraid. No passes just for feeling guilty.

  4. Aimee Liu said of EDs "genetics made the gun, society loaded it, and emotions pulled the trigger." how do you feel about that?

  5. I recently spoke with Liu and noted that third element.

    But I have trouble with the concept. Not because I don't think it has truth to it, but because it is too ambiguous.

    I think genetics made the gun, society provides ample incentives to take the trigger lock off, and dieting pulls the trigger.

    I don't think it matters if the trigger is a whim to diet one weekend, or a life of stress that one day turns to dieting - the result is the same. It takes little effort to pull a trigger - it is the power of the gun that matters.

  6. You raise some interesting points here and you've given me something to think about. I think you've inspired what I'm going to write about in my blog post tomorrow.

    Would it be ok to link back to this blog?

  7. Of course it is okay - I would be flattered!

  8. At age 42 I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, after seeing my older brother who abused me. He abused others, even his own daughter, and was in prison. He had apologized to me.
    At our stepmother's funeral, he behaved very inappropriately with my two daughters, who were 11 and 12. After that I had two miscarraiges.
    I never thought I could go into such a depression! Now I still struggle with it, think about it, and I want to lose weight very badly.

    I did have another baby, and that has helped, but I am afraid of how I feel inside.

    I guess I do blame myself for trusting my brother again. Am I a dummy, or what?

  9. I am so sad to think of the pain you have experienced and the trespass of your brother. I hope for you that you forgive yourself for trust - although it led to pain it was not the trust that was bad, it was his exploitation of it. Forgive yourself and build a healthy life for yourself and your children - you deserve them. Get safe, strong support from healthy people in your life and professionals with experience and compassion!


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