Men with Eating Disorders Overlooked - Printable Version

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Men with Eating Disorders Overlooked - Peppero - 04-14-2014 01:45 PM

This was posted earlier on the BBC news and I was really thrilled to see it. I knew that we as a society had a tendency to pretend that anyone who isn't a white teenage girl somehow can't suffer from an eating disorder (which is a mental problem, not a silly choice to look like a supermodel but went too far), but what amazed me about the article was how [i]doctors[/img] treated male patients with signs of an eating disorder after they came to the doctor for help. Maybe they saw a gener practitioner instead of a mental health professional, but that is no excuse.

What are your thoughts on it? I just don't know how a doctor can treat a patient that way and still practice medicine.

RE: Men with Eating Disorders Overlooked - Marechal des logis Daedalus - 04-18-2014 08:21 PM

Male anorexia certainly does exist, but is probably not as apparently common in part due to all the escapist, mainstream expectations of beauty which women appear to have hammered in, despite it usually being physically impossible to embody these traits. The other issue is that men seem generally less likely to seek medical or psychological help for eating disorders, and all of that really stems from fears of being called "gay", because obviously only women have eating disorders and issues of self-image right? In a slightly related note, it is disconcerting to know how many men claim to be fine with those outside the heterosexual range, but still see all of it, and use the terms, in a negative context, especially for quick insults and cheap jokes.

I was mildly anorexic when I was 13 to 15 years old, and that does not mean that I was just abnormally thin. My intention was to loose weight because my body was growing and I was not comfortable with the changes. I had been subsisting off roughly 600 calories a day and bicycling many miles every week. Eventually that intake was reduced to even less. The shape of my ribs was visible, and I was wearing size 28 pants with belts.

I went unchallenged about it because my father had an absolutist view of health. He thought that fat- any fat at all -equals heart-failure, and that thinness is healthy, no matter how thin. No one noticed until my mother moved closer and began paying attention. I believe I had been "brainwashed" or perhaps conditioned, to put it more mildly, to believe that I had to be as thin as possible. I think this is what happens when one is surrounded by diet-culture for too long a time. I am trying no to go too deeply into the subject because of the pain and embarrassment, but I definitely had pertinent issues of self-image.

RE: Men with Eating Disorders Overlooked - Peppero - 04-20-2014 07:42 PM

Interestingly, studies show that eating disorders are tied to OCD and anxiety and that there usually is a stressful trigger incident (or series of incidents) that sets off the eating disorder. From the research I have seen, ED has been around since at least the 1800's and even exists in the same population proportion in cultures where the ideal standard of beauty is rotund. What happens is the person develops a negative relationship with food and fat (similar to what you experienced) and develops an anxiety over eating and gaining fat. The stereotype is that it is teen girls wanting to meet unrealistic beauty standards, but that "cheapens" the reality of it: it is a mental disorder, and one with the highest death rate if left untreated (about 20%).

This is why it is so dangerous to write off men, non-whites and older people who had ED. This was poked fun at in an episode of American Dad (season 2 episode 2 "American Dad After School Special"). They did a really good job with it overall, and the ED counselor kept referring to Stan as a "teen girl" to show the stereotype. It was sparked when Stan didn't like Steve's fat girlfriend but Steve didn't care. This was Stan's stress trigger and caused him to try to control fat in the house by getting in shape (it set off body dysmorphia in his head).

This explains why every person, male and female, in modern society is bombarded with "ideal" bodies in the media but only a small percentage develop an ED. It isn't caused by the media, but rather a mental disorder and an emotional trigger.