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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Plastic Surgery: External Locus Of Control?

Professor Tanya Byron writes in the Times  to a lady whose daughters are against her having cosmetic surgery. She has been discarded by her husband after 35 years of marriage in favour of a younger model. Her face, she feels, wears the strain of spending a life time looking after a husband and children.  She wants a face and breast lift but her daughters are "furious" and call her "shallow".

Prof Tanya devotes her response to the question of where the "locus of control" (LOC) of this poor lady lies. Is it outside of herself, which means that she is sensitive to the opinions of others? Or it is inside of herself, which means that she has greater level of personal control and self-determination. With an internal LOC  one assumes, she would not seek to define herself via her appearance.

Tanya Byron thence cautions the lady against having cosmetic enhancement, a contentious position to adopt. She says find another interest to occupy your time. What? Visiting old churches?

I feel that Tanya has hidden her personal biases inside a wall of hypothesis and so-called evidence. about "locus of control".

Prof T misses the point. My attention regarding this problem was directed toward the daughters who were furious with the mother. They may well have opinions, worries about the procedures, undue influence from others, fears and concerns about what their mother might become. But by what right do they accuse their mother of being shallow and insecure?

I specialise in the treatment of body image, locus of control issues, contingent self destructive behaviours and everything else to do with a horrible relationship with food and with oneself.  But this does not make me against cosmetic enhancement per se.  I feel that I have an internal locus of control and possibly also high "appearence schemacity". This means that my self worth is in part affected by looking as good as I can within reason and without being obsessed by it from one minute to the next.

I reflect this by the clothes I choose, the attention I give my hair, my quest to eat a good healthful diet, the vitamins I take, the occasional facial and anything else that I am able to afford. If Prof Tanya does any of these herself then I suspect a little hypocrisy is at play.

So is cosmetic surgery the thin edge of the wedge?  No, I don't think so. I would say to this lady "go for it my dear, and tell your daughters where to go". Spend your money on everything and anything you like. If they don't like it, they can lump it, and if they give you a hard time they don't deserve you. Get real, it's tough out there. I hope you find a man who is good to you with your new face and your new breasts and if you need any help with your "locus of control" then get some counselling alongside your new face but not instead of it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Implants for Anorexia Nervosa

Last week the Press around the world reported on some partial success for electronic implants given to people with long standing anorexia nervosa. The research was done in Canada and reported in the Lancet.

Partial, meaning that about 2 in 3 of the people in this small trial had positive results. The research is blighted in part by not having a comparison group of people who BELIEVE that they have had an  implant, which might have tested for the placebo effect.

This is a very important piece of news which deserves our attention. To get more of my thoughts on whether this is the next best thing, please follow the link below.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Eating Disorders In Boarding Schools

On Monday Feb 25th I gave a talk to a group of 80 teachers, nurses and other representatives of boarding schools across the UK.

Schools are there to educate and help our children to grow and become good citizens and expand their potential - did I miss anything out here?

But kids come along with issues which seriously affect their ability to be present and learn. Eating disorders are more likely to hit in adolescence just at the time when they are facing their exams and the culmination of their years of preparation.

It's clear from the voices in the room that an eating disorder has serious effects. It affects the child, their class mates, their teachers and their brothers and sisters. Schools are ill-equpped to deal with the fall out of an eating disorder and schools are not supposed to be hospitals or treatment centres. When I was growing up, matron was only supposed to bandage a wounded leg or a bump on the head, not to counsel us for "stuff".  What are they to do?

I heard some stories about young boys who are drinking protein shakes and exercising excessively to the point where they can hardly stand up. I heard stories about young girls who are making themselves sick and refusing to discuss this with their teacher. I heard stories about kids who are very thin, pretending that they are eating when they are not,  and insisting that nothing is wrong with them at all.

Can a school do anything to prevent eating disorders?  I am not really sure that they can. Well- meaning education describing eating disorders can do more harm than good. I think that some of you will disagree with me. Anorexia begins, they say, at birth.

Some things might be useful like body image work and media awareness training, emotional reslience work should begin when kids are very young.

And eating disorders are severe, sometimes chronic mental health conditions. They emerge because of slight or serious emotional deficits which can be healed in time with the right treatment.  They are not just a silly phase.

Schools should not be trying to treat an eating disorder on their own. A young person with a problem needs urgent long term expert help. A school should be part of a treatment plan that has been designed and written down by someone else.

At any one time, EVERY school will have some pupils with dangerous eating practices. This is never going to change. A teacher or parent who is concerned can access help and information on our website http://eating-disorders.org.uk or call us on 0845 838 2040