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On Hold with Atchka! and Harriet Brown

June 19, 2012

Trigger warning: This interview is about anorexia nervosa and eating disorders.

Harriet Brown is amazing. As a mother, she watched her daughter wither away as her eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, slowly eroded her psychological and physical health. But rather than put her daughter through the traditional AN treatment, which involved in-patient care by ED specialists — an approach with depressingly high recidivism rates — Brown researched the issue until she found a promising new approach to AN: the Maudsley method.

Considering the fact that 2,700 children in 100,000 have an eating disorder (compared to 12 in 100,000 with type 2 diabetes), it is critical that parents find ED treatments with proven success.

What makes the Maudsley approach different, both in terms of treatment and success rates, is that the person suffering from AN aren’t sent to a cold, clinical treatment facility. Their home becomes the treatment facility, and the parents become the physicians.

This combination of intensive treatment in a nurturing environment has proven successful for Harriet’s daughter, though her family must remain vigilant for signs of relapse. Brown wrote about the experience in Brave Girl Eating, now available on paperback.

In this conversation, Brown shares everything she’s learned during her mission to save her daughter, including a fascinating exploration of the evolutionary advantages of AN. Since this interview, I’ve stumbled across quite a bit of research that links AN to low leptin levels, suggesting a biological basis for what was traditionally seen as a psychological disorder.

The conversation we have is harrowing, but informative, as Brown explains how this insidious disorder has wrapped its far-reaching tentacles around our daughters, and increasingly sons. But she also provides the solution to escape its grip and to move forward into a healthy, happy life.

(Previous introduction here)

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 19, 2012 2:13 pm

    She’s spot on. I loved this one!

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