My mommy mades me want to vomit

I almost hate to give this sort of thing any attention, but ignoring it doesn't seem to kill it.

Longitudinal examination of maternal psychological control and adolescents' self-competence as predictors of bulimic symptoms among boys and girls.

  • Self-reports by children are... self-reports by children.
  • Correlation is not causation.
  • Genetic traits tend to run in families.
  • Hypotheses sometimes say more about the researchers than the subjects.

Let me interpret the conclusion: "This study uncovers THE PRE-ORDAINED CONCLUSION OF one particular process WHICH WE ARE CONFIDENT ENOUGH ABOUT TO PUT OUT THERE DESPITE THE POSSIBLE MISUSE OF IN PRACTICE wherein a psychologically controlling parenting style, AS INTERPRETED BY A CHILD WHO WILL LATER BE DIAGNOSED WITH AN ANXIETY DISORDER HE SHARES WITH HIS PARENTS THAT WILL GO A LONG WAY TOWARD EXPLAINING WHY THE PARENTS ARE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR WORRIED KID, affects OR IS SIMPLY PREDICTIVE OF adolescents' development of bulimic symptoms, a finding that may be useful to researchers and clinicians WHO THOUGHT SO ANYWAY.

I'm all for families taking a good hard look at our functioning and histories to find the best way to respond to the needs of our kids - with eating disorders or cancer or depression or any illness. Our family did change our lifestyle and learn new parenting skills during our daughter's recovery - but that is a happy side-benefit and a sign of growth as a family, not an indictment of the past. The facile smugness of concluding parents cause bulimia by our parenting style and the easy corollary that we could have prevented bulimia with another style is dangerous stuff indeed. It feeds a paternalistic and judgemental stance toward parents who bring their children into care - a stance that has probably done more damage to families and patients than the loving intentions of "controlling" mothers could.


  1. It's like our old nutritionist, who after meeting with my d (at the time age 10) told me, "your daughter told me she isn't eating because she doesn't like your cooking."

    Oh, THAT's why she's AN, it's my cooking! funny then, why does she also not eat when we go out to dinner?

  2. Thank you!!!

    My mum did not cause my bulimia. My dad did not cause my bulimia. No one caused my bulimia! I don't even remember how my bulimia started.

    I think "correlation is not causation" is a point that every journalist in the world needs to be taught. There are some many times there are studies where the researchers say, "There may be some link between x and y" and all the headlines read, "X cause y!"

    But I think the writers of that paper had a competition on how many syllables they could fit into one title.

  3. As well as the journalists it might be a good idea to teach the doctors, nurses and social workers.

  4. How about getting to the YOUNG doctors, nurses and social workers now? The old ones may be pretty set in their thinking. The young ones not.


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