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The Sound of Ideas

Science Cafe: Eating Disorders and Body Image

Posted Monday, July 12, 2010

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Science Cafe: Eating Disorders and Body Image Anorexia is among the most harmful eating disorders in the U.S., often fueled by media portrayals of unrealistically thin body images. Some researchers contend America is now exporting the problem, selling thinness and over-eating at the same time. We'll talk with local experts about the causes of eating disorders and what we can do to prevent them. It's a Science Café edition of the Sound of Ideas, Monday at 9 on 90.3.


Arts and Culture, Health


Lisa Damour, Ph.D., Consulting Psychologist and Co-Director, Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School
Eileen Anderson-Fye, E.d.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University

Additional Information

Check out more Science Cafe Cleveland topics. Next month: Art Authentication.
Science Cafe Cleveland is the second Monday of every month at the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Drinks start at 6:30pm and the discussion is at 7pm.

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Summer 8:39 AM 7/12/10

What does the research say about a connection between eating disorders (bulimia - bingeing and purging, specifically) and borderline personality. In the case of a dual diagnosis - or multiple co-existing issues - what should be addressed first or as the primary issue. . . the eating disorder or the personality disorder?

My youngest sister is battling the above scenario, and she has not been successful to date with any of the treatment options she has tried. She identifies, herself, the eating disorder as the CORE of her problems - she says repeatedly that the eating disorder CONTROLS her.

Arron 10:38 AM 7/12/10

From 8 years old I’ve struggled with weight control and diet issues, and am in my latter 40s.

About 2 years ago I tried a vegetarian diet; it was something I had considered for some time but never followed through with until recently.  It is working very well for me.  Besides losing weight and feeling better, It helps becasue I am aware and thinking about all of the things I am eating, and about getting nutrition.  I’d recommend it – or such a program to keep you conscious of your diet – for others to try.

Karen 10:38 AM 7/12/10

I know a young woman who suffered anorexia, and the notable thing in her family was a high expectation of perfectionism in all things.  So the children were all grade A students and good athletes.  And the girls were slim and one was anorexic.  Is perfectionism a large component in these diseases?

Lisa Damour 12:14 PM 7/12/10

Summer:  It’s very common for eating disorders to co-occur with other psychiatric disorders- indeed, by some surveys, bulimia co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders about 94% of the time.  In the case of a dual diagnosis of bulimia and borderline personality disorder, I think that most clinicians would see the bulimic behavior as an attempt to regulate feelings that otherwise feel out of control.  In general, treatment aimed at increasing emotional regulation skills - an approach that is at the heart of current treatment approaches for borderline personality disorder - should help with symptoms associated with bulimia and borderline p.d..

Lisa Damour 12:19 PM 7/12/10

Karen: The scenario you describe is not at all uncommon; perfectionism and high-functioning behavior are often seen in the families of young women with anorexia.  Indeed, this pattern was first identified in 1978 by Hilde Bruch, MD in her classic text “The Golden Cage: The enigma of anorexia nervosa.” Further, many people with bulimia see themselves as “failed anorexics” because they lack the will and discipline to restrict their food intake all of the time.


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