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Monday, 6 February 2012

Another One Bites The Dust; Dr Melanie Spooner R.I.P.

Anorexia claims another victim, Dr Melanie Spooner, after fighting the illness since she was 13 years old. People will say, what a clever woman, so many awards and qualifications; how could she possibly succumb to this condition?  But that is one of the hallmarks of anorexia, something about the way the brain is wired means that the same features that make a person academically brilliant can heighten the risk of anorexia. In fact, it's hard to find someone succumbing to the illness who is commonly dull or who doesn't care to waste their time striving for perfection.

We are told that she refused treatment because she didn't want to be treated as a child. I wouldn't know this; but if it is true, it shows up one of the many paradoxes of anorexia. She was a child. A starving brain IS the brain of a child, for whatever the reason someone is deprived of nourishment.  If starved and underweight, our powers of reason and abstract thinking are suppressed. Yet the intellect shines undiminished and the sufferer is able to convince everyone around them (and even him or her self) that the status quo must not be attacked.

This leads to massive arguments among psychotherapists, some of who maintain the right of the anorexic to starve to death while others maintain that the organism must be fed by force and then given treatment to enable them to live at a normal adult weight.  I wonder, why was a Section not in place? Is life on a Mental Health Section worse than death with free will?  I don't have the answers to that, but I am on the side of life at any cost.

In my working life, I meet thousands of people - including psychotherapists - who are depriving themselves of foods or of major food groups because they are terrified of gaining weight. Some of us have been duped and conned by information which is wrong or given out of context. We get frightened of eating carbs, or eating after 7pm at night or combining certain foods. We tell ourselves that we are allergic to wheat or dairy food.  Humbug? The food-afraid also aren't living life from a functioning, rational adult perspective. Many people would rather die than feel fat and are anorexic in their heads even if it doesn't show up in their appearance.

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