Monday, October 26, 2009

Pinpointing When Rates Of Binge Eating Converge Across Races

ScienceDaily (Oct. 25, 2009) — Existing research shows that rates of binge eating among adult women is virtually identical across race. However, among college age women, it's a different story: Caucasian women are more apt to exhibit binge eating behaviors than African American women, according to a study presented at this month's annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society.
"We are trying to figure out when the diet trajectory changes, and when it is that African-Americans start to exhibit these behaviors. It's important to look at the eating habits of this group as they may contribute to early onset weight gain and obesity," said Melissa Napolitano, clinical psychologist at the Center for Obesity Research and Education and associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Health Professions.

In the study, 715 female college students completed an on-line survey about health habits, behaviors and attitudes. Each woman self-reported her height and weight. Answers were then compared to the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale, a questionnaire that is used to diagnose a variety of eating disorders, and the Binge Eating Scale, to gauge the severity of binge eating symptoms.

Binge Eating Disorder is classified by eating amounts of food larger than most people would consider normal within a 2-hour period; a sense of loss of control during these eating periods; eating past the point of feeling comfortably full; and feelings of embarrassment, depression, anxiety or guilt after eating.

Overall, the African-American students were less likely than the Caucasian students to meet criteria for binge eating and had less severe symptoms. However, researchers found that the predictors of binge eating symptom severity were similar, including depressed mood, and the perception of feeling fat.

The researchers say it is possible that culture plays a role in the diagnosis and that consuming larger portions may not be labeled as such by African Americans.

"These women could be binge eating, but they may have less anxiety and distress surrounding their eating habits, so they don't recognize it as an issue," said Napolitano, adding that more studies are needed to look at differences in eating patterns and behaviors among different cultures.

About 31-33 percent of college students are overweight, and weight gain has been shown to increase during their academic career. In this study 22 percent of Caucasians and 37 percent of African-Americans were overweight or obese. Existing research suggests that binge eating could be a factor in weight gain over time.

Coupled with the fact that rates of obesity are especially high among African American females, Napolitano says it's critical to have tailored treatments and educational programs available for women of diverse backgrounds.

"College age women are at a critical stage in their development, and there's almost no research that looks at binge eating behaviors among African American women. We need to do a better job at understanding these eating practices to help design and evaluate both prevention and treatment efforts," she said.

The co-author of this study is Susan Himes, at the Mayo Clinic. Funding for this research was provided by Temple University.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

F.E.A.S.T. Position Statement: Parents do not cause eating disorders, Families are important allies during treatment

Despite all that has been learned in the past decade that dispels old ideas about eating disorders, a lingering history of blaming parents still exists. This assumption, sometimes stated and other times just implied, harms families and recoveries. At a time when families are most needed, this implication of guilt can disable a parent from taking assertive and life-saving action.

F.E.A.S.T., an organization committed to evidence-based care and parent empowerment, calls on the treatment community and society to put a true end to the era of parent blame. Freed of this burden parents can, when professionally supported and coached, be powerful allies during treatment.

  • Eating disorders are brain disorders, not a choice or a sign of poor parenting.
  • Theories of parent causation are often based on now-outdated ideas of the illness.
  • Correlation has been confused with causation for symptoms that are often genetically transmitted.
  • The risk of developing an eating disorder is 50-80% genetic.
  • The presence of an eating disorder or other mental illness in a family can by itself cause temporary dysfunctional reactions and interactions.
  • Eating disorder patients come from every type of family, just as the general population does.
  • There is no evidence to support eating disorder treatment that is based on repairing dysfunctional families.
  • Care-giving families need active assistance and reassurance to do their job well.
  • Eating disorder patients often suffer from temporary deficits that may distort memory and perception of family.
  • Evidence-based treatment of eating disorders indicates that family empowerment and involvement is one of the most powerful tools for early intervention and improved outcomes.
  • While parents do not cause eating disorders, they can be an active part of recovery.
While lingering concerns about parent pathology live on in some treatment practices and literature, we point to the following sources:

NEDA would like to send the clear message that families are NOT responsible for eating disorders.  The National Eating Disorders Association, US, January 2007
"No evidence exists to prove that families cause eating disorders." Treatment of Patients With Eating Disorders, Third Edition, APA Practice Guidelines,  May 2006
"FAMILIES DO NOT CAUSE ANOREXIA NERVOSA" Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa collaboration, January 7, 2007

       "For a long time the mothers have been blamed, or families have been blamed, and that's been pitiful." Lynn Grefe, National Eating Disorders Association, US.
       "This is a brain disorder." Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
       "I think traditionally, and not just traditionally I think today still a lot of providers would not see the parents as part of the solution but as part of the problem and I think that's been a pervasive attitude among a large number of clinicians in our field." Dr. Daniel le Grange, University of Chicago, US.
       "Parents often have this guilt, assuming that because they were the person in charge of their offspring they may have done something wrong, but there's no evidence for that, whatsoever." Dr. Janet Treasure, Maudsley Hospital, UK.
       "There are no data to support at this point that parents cause eating disorders." Lucene Wisniewski, Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders, US.
·       "Parents don't cause eating disorders." Jeanine Cogan, Eating Disorders Coalition, US
"Parents don't cause eating disorder." Professor Ivan Eisler, Kings College, London, UK
"What parents need to know is: eating disorders are biologically based illnesses. They didn't cause it. They need to let go of that guilt."   Kitty Westin, The Emily Program, US
"Parents do not cause eating disorders. Parents suffer just as much as their kids do." Dr. Walter Kaye, University of California at San Diego, US.
From "Do Parents Cause Eating Disorders" video interviews of eating disorder experts, October 2007

If you or your organization would like to support this statement, please fill out the form on the right or contact F.E.A.S.T.

For more information on eating disorders or F.E.A.S.T. please visit our website at
Contact: Laura Collins, Executive Director, F.E.A.S.T.
+1 (540) 227-8518

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H1N1 and Eating Disorders: Does Your Eating Disorder Make the Swine Flu More Likely for You?

The 2009 novel H1N1 (swine flu) virus has raised concerns around the world. We know that nutrition can be a big part of helping the immune system function, and a healthy immune system is more able to defend against infection. So, if you have poor nutrition due to an eating disorder, are you at greater risk of catching H1N1?

H1N1 and Eating Disorders: Resilient Immunity

There is debate about how your eating disorder might be affecting your immune system and, therefore, your likelihood of catching the H1N1 virus. Levels of certain infection-fighting cells drop in people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. But research seems to show that those with eating disorders are not significantly more vulnerable to infectious disease. This is surprising, since those who experience starvation against their will do become more vulnerable to infectious disease.

If you have anorexia nervosa, some researchers note, you've probably chosen to cut out fats and carbohydrates first. These researchers hypothesize that this selective restriction somehow allows the immune system to continue to maintain a higher level of protection than those who are simply starving.

If you have bulimia nervosa, you will have nutritional deficits from missing out on many of the nutrients you need. Plus, consistent vomiting can compromise the immune system. However, just as in anorexia, there seems to be little evidence of increased infection in those with bulimia.

Will Heavy Exercise Make H1N1 More Likely for You?

Exercise is another factor that affects your immune system. Moderate amounts help it, and extreme amounts -- the kind of exercise many with eating disorders perform -- can weaken it. If you exercise intensely as a way of trying to burn calories or to work off episodes of binge eating, you could be giving your immune system an extra challenge -- and giving H1N1 a greater chance of affecting you.

But again, there appears to be little research on differences in immunity between those with eating disorders who exercise excessively and those with eating disorders who don't. So, it seems premature to say that heavy exercise will make you more likely to contract the H1N1 virus if you have an eating disorder.

Your Vulnerability to H1N1 May Be Driven by Other Factors

Although your immune system may not be compromised directly if you have an eating disorder, that doesn't mean that you won't get the swine flu. You're probably as likely as anyone to contract the virus, and you may be at even higher risk if you're of school or college age (simply because you're around more people). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have suggestions for how to deal with H1N1 in schools.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Emerging Eating Disorder: Exercise Bulimia

A little-known form of the eating disorder bulimia is getting more and more attention from medical professionals -- exercise bulimia.

As's Cali Carlin reported on "The Early Show Saturday Edition," people with the disorder can't stop themselves from working out excessively and compulsively, with potentially serious health consequences.

This "startling" form of bulimia is of particular concern, Carlin says, because it happens in plain sight and doesn't involve the hidden vomiting-to-purge-calories marking the form of bulimia more people are familiar with, making exercise bulimia hard to recognize, and insidious.

In addition, she points out, eating disorders in general have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Carlin spoke with Robyn Yamanaka who is, ironically, a professional trainer.

Yamanaka told Carlin her exercise bulimia "started off innocently, (with workouts) maybe like three or four times a week. ... (But) it got to a point where I was working out three hours a day, if not more. ... I didn't take a day off for about 6 years. ... I have more health problems than someone who is overweight because I was underweight."

Dr. Maryanne Rosenthal, clinical director at Casa Palmera, an in-patient treatment center in San Diego says, "I think(exercise bulimia) is becoming epidemic. ... An exercise bulimic is focused on the ritual of exercising, and that is that method of purging.... People think they get a pass because they're not vomiting, they're not taking laxatives, so (they think) they're not really purging. ... It's very hard to diagnose, because exercise is great right?"

Health woes spurred by exercise bulimia can include fatigue,reproductive problems, depression and anxiety, Rosenthal observes.

Yamanaka, says Carlin, was "exercising herself to death. Her bones had weakened to the equivalent of a 65-year-old female. She suffered from osteoporosis, a stress fracture and lost her period for eight years."

Rosenthal calls exercise bulimia "an addiction and, when people are really heavily into their addictions, they can't stop without help."

Yamanaka tearfully told Carlin that her parents forced her to get treatment, and says she's recovering and even back on the job.

"Im really lucky," she observes.

Best-selling author and dieting expert Dr. Ian Smith told "Early Show Saturday Edition" co-anchor Erica Hill signs someone you know may be an exercise bulimic include that person missing work, parties or other important appointments to work out, not taking a break from working out for days at a time, working out for hours at a time each day, working out while injured or sick, or becoming severely depressed when not being able to work out.

Smith, who's also the medical and diet expert on VH1's highly-rated "Celebrity Fit Club," said to CBS News you should approach someone you're concerned about with caution: "Discuss with them the amount of time they're spending on working out relative to where they are with the goals they want to achieve from working out. Most of these people are already low in fat and within the healthy weight range. Try to bring it to their attention that they have had great success and results from working out. The quantity of time they're spending is out of proportion to what they need to maintain their results. Suggest they see a therapist who can help them sort out what's going on.

"Softly discuss what they may be neglecting so that they can work out. Try to get them to see that they are allowing exercise to disproportionately occupy time and space in their life. Maybe they are suffering some of the consequences of exercising too much (fatigue, dehydration, osteoporosis, arthritis, reproductive problems, injuries such as stress fractures, strains, and sprains), and pointing these consequences out may help them see what they're doing."

Smith noted that, "Unlike (with) classic bulimia, exercise bulimia is almost just as common in men as it is in women. Exercise bulimia is not about the person wanting to improve their health or train for a specific event. They exercise for the sake of exercise."

If someone resists getting help or receiving consul, Smith said, "There's not much you can do, unless they are a minor. This is not a condition where you can commit someone to a psychiatric clinic or make them go get help. The best thing to do at that point is to be as supportive as possible and encourage rather than mandate they seek at least some counsel."

Friends Don't Let Friends 'Fat Talk': Tri Delta Launches 2nd Annual 'Fat Talk Free(R) Week' to Combat Negative Body Image Among Women

ARLINGTON, Texas, Oct. 19, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tri Delta, a leader among social Greek organizations, announced the return of 'Fat Talk Free Week' (Oct. 19-23), an international 5-day body activism campaign to draw attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the 'thin ideal' on women in society. This 2nd annual public awareness effort was borne from Tri Delta's award-winning peer-led body image education and eating disorders prevention program, Reflections.

"Fat Talk" is classified as statements that explicitly or implicitly reinforce the unattainable thin-ideal standard of female beauty promoted by our culture. Next week, women are encouraged to avoid using phrases like: "I feel fat today;" "I can't eat that, it will make me fat;" "she shouldn't wear that it because it makes her look fat;" or even "Wow, you look great - have you lost weight?" While it may seem harmless, research indicates that a mere 3-5 minutes of engaging in this type of talk substantially increases body dissatisfaction (Stice, 2003).

"We developed Fat Talk Free Week and Reflections as the catalyst to ignite a revolution of body activism among women everywhere," said Jackye Clark, president of Tri Delta. "As an organization with thousands of women joining each year, we are in a very unique position to actively work toward eliminating the devastating pattern of fat talk and chasing the thin ideal."

Today in the U.S., more than 10 million women are battling an eating disorder, which is more than four times the number of women suffering from breast cancer. Further, recent studies have shown that more than two thirds of women ages 18-25 would rather be mean or stupid than be fat and over 50 percent would rather be hit by a truck (Martin, 2007).

Tri Delta co-developed Reflections with Carolyn Becker, Ph.D, FAED, of Trinity University, and the local sororities on that campus. Reflections not only reduces eating disorder risk factors and improves body image perceptions among participants, it also enables facilitators to gain valuable academic and leadership experience and promotes a more cohesive community of women on campus.

Since introducing Fat Talk Free Week and the official launch of Reflections in 2008, Tri Delta has reached millions of women internationally through a variety of outlets including a viral video campaign distributed via email and You Tube, campus activism events and community outreach, media exposure and more.

Major partnerships include the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW), National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, among many other non-profit organizations and for-profit corporations.

Fat Talk Free Week 2009 kicks off with a humbling message about the serious downside of pursuing the thin ideal and the damaging nature of everyday 'fat talk', as told through a powerful viral video campaign. Additional highlights throughout the week will include:

* Daily E-mail Challenges with thought-provoking statistics and simple, immediate body activism exercises

* Sign the Fat Talk Free Week Promise online, donate your Facebook profile to the cause, and promote the issue virally through social media

* Body Image Activism Events on college campuses around the country

* Community Special Events, including the Re(Define) (Real)ity(TM) Fashion Show, sponsored by the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness and Little in the Middle

For more information about sponsors, events happening throughout the week and a direct link to the video, visit:

To date, Tri Delta has already rolled the program out to 22 Tri Delta chapters across the nation and over 34 campuses, impacting more than 6,600 women, with another 30 campuses scheduled by spring of 2010. Tri Delta is committed to educating at least 20,000 college women in coming years.

About Tri Delta
Having initiated over 200,000 women since its founding in 1888, Tri Delta is a leader among social Greek organizations through its passion for progress and visionary thinking. Through partnerships with nationally recognized organizations like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, award-winning publications like The Trident, and innovative collegiate and alumnae initiatives, Tri Delta is committed to leveraging our timeless values to revitalize the sorority experience. For more information, please visit or call 817-633-8001.

For more information about Reflections - visit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Today we were alerted to the presence of a quickly growing application titled, “How much should you weigh?” The application not only determines a user’s “acceptable” weight, but posts that information to the user’s page. While we understand this application is meant to be lighthearted, to a person struggling with body image and eating disorders, this can be a trigger to a downward spiral.

Eating disorders are a growing concern to men and women in the United States and all across the world. Applications like “How much should you weigh?” can cause those struggling with eating disorders to relapse into dangerous habits. One Facebook user told us that as someone recovering from an eating disorder she was vulnerable to this application, but was far enough down the path of recovery to pay it no attention.

ANAD takes a strong stance against evaluating a person’s “ideal” weight, even in the case of formal BMI testing. Since it is known that the concentration and layout of the body varies widely between ethnic groups, age groups, and especially genders, this is a measurement that is, by its definition, impossible to standardize. There is no test that can determine what one ought to weigh, just as there is no test that can determine who one ought to love, or how one ought to raise children. When an informal, unscientific application makes such claims, the effect can be injurious to anyone struggling with eating disorders. We ask you to remove this application as it promotes hazardous thinking and behavior concerning body image and eating.


Laura Discipio, LCSW
Executive Director
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

Bravo's Thintervention Inadvertently Recalls Horrifying Anorexia Lingo

Jackie Warner, one of the choicest reality TV lesbians of the modern era, is set to follow her first show Work Out with another Bravo reality program, this one entitled Thintervention with Jackie Warner. Catchy! Fierce! Totally ignorant of common, anorexia-related “thin” wordplay!

Thintervention uses the same pun as the chilling term “thinspiration.” Even a casual Google search of “Thinspiration” yields pages of anorexia-encouraging websites, forums dedicated to communal “pro-ana” experiences, and pin-up photos of emaciated teens that “thinspire” (or help trigger) eating-disordered behavior in like-minded women and men. What’s worse, “Thintervention” implies that Warner will intervene with out-of-shape patients and goad them into becoming “thin,” which is not the same thing as being “fit.”

The show’s official press release doesn’t save the title either, noting that the proceedings include “a grueling workout with Warner pushing her clients to their emotional and physical limits.” This might not be a terrible show. It just needs a titular overhaul, and fast.

On the plus side, maybe we’ll see less of Warner’s camera-eager indulgences like catty confessionals and staged trips to her father’s tombstone. She has large (or, petite and pointy) shoes to fill if she wants to reign as Bravo’s top didactic sorceress.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Confidentiality in Adolescent Psychotherapy by Dr. Sarah Ravin

Thank you to Laura Collins for the link.

Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the therapeutic relationship. The ethics of my profession require that all communication between my patients and me remains confidential. In other words, I cannot disclose the information a patient reveals in session, or my own impressions about a patient, to anyone without the patient’s explicit written consent. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. I am a mandated reporter of child abuse, and if a patient is imminently suicidal or homicidal, I have a duty to notify the appropriate parties in order to save the patient’s life and protect the public. But these scenarios are relatively uncommon.

Undoubtedly, confidentiality is an important, if not essential, therapeutic tool. Patients are far more likely to enter therapy, and to be completely honest and forthcoming in therapy, when they know that “what happens in therapy stays in therapy.” I am honored and humbled, though not necessarily surprised, when a patient tells me that I am the first person she has ever told about a particular trauma, event, thought, or feeling. A therapist’s office is a safe place in which a patient can express anything and everything without fear of judgment, alienation, or other negative repercussions. Through this vulnerability and brutal honesty comes an opportunity for growth and meaningful change.

However, confidentiality is not without its problems. For example, psychologists often struggle with decisions as to whether to disclose information about adolescent patients to their parents. On the one hand, parents have a legal right to obtain health care information regarding their child, and they are technically the “holders” of any privileged communication between their child and her therapist. On the other hand, adolescents can undoubtedly benefit from discussing certain personal issues with a nonjudgmental third party outside their family, and they are less likely to raise such issues with their therapist if they know that the information will get back to mom and dad.

I know of some psychologists who share very little with the parents of their adolescent patients. After all, they argue, the primary developmental tasks of adolescence include separation from family and establishment of an independent identity. These psychologists believe that they are respecting the adolescent’s burgeoning sense of identity by excluding parents from treatment. They also believe that they are nurturing the therapeutic relationship by refusing to disclose all but the most essential information to an adolescent’s parents. Many of these therapists believe that the parents are guilty of causing or contributing to their child’s problems, and thus are best kept out of the treatment picture. As a result, many parents of adolescent patients are relegated to the role of chauffeur. They drive their child to her appointments and pay for her treatment without ever knowing what is going on in those sessions. Imagine how disempowering it must feel for a parent to be relegated to such a role.

To be sure, psychologists who practice this way make many valid points. However, I have a different perspective on my role as a therapist and on the role confidentiality plays in my work with adolescent patients. Consequently, I approach the issue of confidentiality with adolescent patients differently. Empirical research has demonstrated, and my own clinical experience has confirmed, that adolescent treatment generally works best when parents are fully informed and actively involved, and I communicate this point to my adolescent patients and their parents at the start of our work together. I am relatively unconcerned when I meet an adolescent patient who lacks insight or motivation or who resists treatment. I am very concerned when the parents of an adolescent patient are unwilling, unmotivated, or unable to play an active role in their child’s treatment.

When I work with adolescents with relatively normal social or developmental concerns (e.g., grief, problems with friends, sexuality, stress management, body dissatisfaction), parents play an important, though relatively minor, role in treatment. In these cases, the work is primarily between the adolescent and me. Even so, I involve parents in the initial evaluation, treatment planning, and discharge planning; I provide them with empirical literature on their child’s problem and the treatment approach I am using; I provide them with guidance as to how they can support their child at home; and I invite them to call me or schedule an appointment with me at any time if they have questions or concerns about their child.

In my work with adolescents with mental illnesses, parents play a central role as indispensable members of the treatment team. I take an authoritative stance regarding my knowledge of, say, major depression or anorexia nervosa, while also maintaining humility by respecting parents’ judgment and intuition regarding their child. I may be the expert on mental health, but they are the experts on their child.

Adolescents who are struggling with serious mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, major depression, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, require treatment which is more intensive and more comprehensive. These patients need their parents to play an active role in managing their symptoms and creating an environment which is conducive to recovery. In order for parents to do this, they need to be informed about their child’s symptoms and progress. While I certainly do not share everything a teenage patient says in therapy with her parents, I do provide her parents with the information they need in order to help her get better.

The parents of adolescents with mental illnesses are often overly stressed, worried, isolated, and confused. These parents need considerable support, encouragement, and guidance as they learn to cope with their child’s illness and support her through her recovery. This one of the reasons why I am so fond of family-based treatment: I get to empower the family to support the patient, drawing upon the parents’ intimate knowledge of and investment in their child. Instead of pulling the patient away from her family, I strengthen her natural support system, which makes intuitive sense to me. After all, therapy is time-limited. Family is forever.

Family members are also vital in preventing relapse, as they are generally the first people to notice a change in their child’s mood or behavior. Equipped with the right knowledge and skills, parents can intervene immediately and help to pull their child back from the brink of relapse, often preventing the need for future treatment.

Does involving family members in treatment damage my relationship with my adolescent patients? In the short term, it often does. Keep in mind, though, that some families bring their adolescents to me after an unsuccessful course of traditional individual therapy in which the patient had a very special, exclusive relationship with her therapist (who may have implicated her parents in the etiology of her problems) but made no meaningful progress whatsoever. My therapeutic relationship with adolescent patients is certainly important, but it is far less important than strengthening her relationship with her family and taking the necessary steps to help her recover. As adolescent patients progress through recovery and gain more insight, they gain trust in me and in their parents. They gain faith in the recovery process, and most of them are grateful for the fact that their parents and I worked collaboratively to help them. As much as they may resist it, adolescents need boundaries and limits, and they need adults to work together on their behalf.

By involving parents so heavily in an adolescent’s treatment, am I disrupting the processes of separation and individuation? In the short term, yes. I would argue, however, that cutting, starving oneself, engaging in unprotected sex, and throwing up after meals are not acceptable ways of exerting control or establishing identity. The supposition that a certain unhealthy behavior serves a valuable emotional or developmental purpose does not justify allowing that behavior to go unchecked. It is the mental illness which hinders adolescent development, not the treatment. Adolescents struggling with crippling depression or anxiety, erratic mood swings, self-injury, or life-threatening eating disorders are unlikely to blossom into well-adjusted, independent young adults without significant support. Empowering an adolescent’s parents to help her overcome a mental illness is ultimately very respectful of adolescent development – it allows the patient to recover within the safety and security of her natural environment so that she may one day live independently, unencumbered by mental illness.

For these reasons, my relationship with the parents is just as important as my relationship with the adolescent patient. Parents need to trust my judgment and treatment methods. They are, after all, entrusting me with their child’s health and bright future. I believe that I earn parents’ trust by maintaining open lines of communication between us, by providing them with empirically-sound literature on their child’s condition and the treatment approach we are taking, by respecting their parental instincts and taking seriously their experiences with their child, by supporting them emotionally, by absolving them of guilt and self-blame for their child’s disorder, and by empowering them to take constructive action.
About the Author: In her own words
I am a trained scientist-practitioner, and in 2008 I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology. A major component of my professional identity is staying informed about recent developments in the field so that I may provide my clients with scientifically sound information and evidence-based treatment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Report: Inmate Was Denied Access to Medication

St. Albans, Vermont - September 30, 2009

Police say Ashley Ellis, 23, of Castleton, died in the state prison in St. Albans six weeks ago, about a day after she started serving a sentence for a probation violation.

She reportedly weighed only 87 pounds because she suffered from the eating disorder anorexia.

The state police investigation is not yet complete but Tuesday the state medical examiner ruled the cause of death as hypokalemic induced cardiac arrhythmia due to anorexia/bulimia nervosa and denial of access to medication.

She reportedly was supposed to be taking prescribed Potassium to treat her anorexia.

"Under no circumstance does a corrections employee, DOC employee, dispense medication or care to an offender," Vt. Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said.

Pallito says a private contracted health company Prison Health Services Incorporated from Tennessee is responsible for providing 100 percent of all health services including medications to Vermont inmates. Pallito says he has seen no evidence so far that DOC employees were involved in any way in treating Ellis or providing her medications.

Reporter Brian Joyce: Are you confident the department was in no way responsible for what happened to this young woman regarding her death?

Pallito: You know the investigation will yield things, I'm sure, that I don't know about. But standing here today I'm pretty confident that the Department of Corrections followed through on the information and passed that information along that we were supposed to.

Vt. Law School Professor and legal expert Cheryl Hanna said, "After reading the medical report on the cause of death, it suggests that there could be financial liability either on behalf of the company that was contracted to provide medical services at the prison. Or the state itself, depending on how the facts unravel in this case. The state itself could be liable for her death."

Hanna says criminal charges are also possible-- depending on the outcome of the police investigation.

State police say they expect to complete their investigation by the end of the week and turn over their findings to the Franklin County prosecutor. He will determine whether any criminal charges are warranted in this case.

The corrections department says under its contract with Prison Health Services, the state is indemnified against any lawsuits. But Hanna says despite any contractual arrangement, it's possible a court could find that the state shares in the financial liability.

Brian Joyce - WCAX News

Renfrew Event: A FREE Webinar for Those in Recovery

The Renfrew Center Foundation

The Art of Letting Go

A FREE Webinar for Those in Recovery

Thursday, October 15, 2009
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST
9:00 pm - 10:30 pm EST

Eating disorder recovery is a series of acts of letting go, which no longer serve your highest good. There are many things we hold onto that can suppress our highest self: thought patterns, behaviors, relationships, and even grudges to name a few. For many of us, letting go can be a struggle for various reasons. We hold on to things out of comfort, familiarity, sentimentality, or denial. Simply, we do not know another way. Facing our fears of letting go is often more difficult than the actual process of releasing.

In this webinar, we will discuss how to release the fixations in your life that are stopping you from fully recovering from your eating disorder. Liesel Winchester, a Renfrew alumna, will share her story and experience of how she continues to let go of her eating disorder to find healing and happiness.
**Please note that this webinar is for those who are recovering from an eating disorder.

Please choose from the following presentation times:

Thursday, October 15, 2009 from 12:00pm-1:30pm EST

To register online, visit:

Thursday, October 15, 2009 from 9:00pm-10:30pm EST
To register online, visit:

For more information or assistance, please call Jenna Hoskinson at 1-877-367-3383 or email

System Requirements for Webinar
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.3.9 (Panther®) or newer