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Which option would you take?

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 02 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:635
  1. Anonymous

    Dear Doctor, I would like to give you my views about certain regimens used in treating people with anorexia nervosa. I have been a sufferer for over seven years, since I was 13. Ironically, both my parents are general practitioners and their concern and worry were exacerbated by a feeling of inadequacy at being unable to cure me themselves. Our plight as a family (my elder and younger brother included) was not improved after I agreed to undergo one particular treatment when I was 15. In fact, it has taken both me and my parents many years to put that destructive episode behind us. It is only now, five years later, that I am able to express my anger at what amounted to a kind of brain washing. With hindsight I can question the reasons behind this demeaning regimen without having to accept the word of a professor.

    You may be curious as to what this treatment involved. Initially the programme began by shutting you in one room (a cubicle) and feeding you on 3000 calories a day until “target weight” was reached. “Target weight” was a source of great resentment by all those undergoing this treatment. It was simply the average weight of anyone your height and age. Because I was 1.7 m, my target weight was deemed to be 62.5 kg--a daunting prospect from the word go. Other factors, such as build, family tendencies, and previous experiences were ignored.

    My home for the next few months was a room with windows all down one side, giving the effect of …

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