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Anatomy of Anorexia Paperback – March 17, 2001
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Invaluable to clinicians, parents, teenagers, and adults who are struggling with anorexia. -- Lynn E. Ponton, M.D.
[A] rich, deep, and most helpful guide for...people whose lives are deeply and painfully affected by this persistent illness. -- Samuel C. Klagsbrun, M.D.
[T]he nation's premier book for parents, relatives, and friends of young women afflicted with this life-threatening disease. -- Joseph A. Califano Jr., president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and former US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
About the Author
Steven Levenkron is a psychotherapist and the author of seven previous books, including Cutting and The Anatomy of Anorexia. He lives and practices in New York City.
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Before others immediately criticize Levenkron for his ego and self-congratulatory attitude, think about the fact that treating anorexics is nigh-impossible, and any doctor who has found a method that works *should* be proud and should be congratulated. Anorexia and bulimia are hateful, destructive illnesses that are notoriously hard to treat. It's really akin to alcoholism. If he can help his patients, bully for him.
Steven Levenkron was one of the first clinicians who started working with anorexic clients in the 1970s and has treated hundreds of them over the years. His conceptualization of anorexia arose from his rich experience in working with people who have this disorder. Although I have read a number of books and articles about eating disorders over the years, I did learn quite a bit from reading this book. Levenkron did an excellent job capturing the personality characteristics and defenses of people with anorexia as well as common dynamics in their families and other relationships. He also described the treatment approach that he uses (Nurturant-Authoritative), providing case examples and process notes from sessions, which has lead him to have a high level of success in treating this often treatment-refractory population.
At times, Levenkron pulls certain information out of the sky which is simply inaccurate (e.g., his faulty definition of an addiction as something that is always pleasurable, his reference to nonexistent Axis II disorders). So things like this as a profession kind of annoy me. Better to do your homework first and cite research than just make things up. His discussion of the influence of outside factors in leading to anorexia is also brief and less developed than in other works (e.g., Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney Martin). For these reasons, I give my rating 4 instead of 5 stars.
Nonetheless, most information in the book is interesting and useful, so I would recommend it to clinicians and laypeople alike.
The strength of this book is that its author has written such a clear, easy-to-understand dissection the anatomy of anorexia. Levenkron analyzes factors contributing to anorexia; its effects on victims, their families, and friends; and several treatments. He uses explanations and case-study examples to demystify a disease that often seems inexplicable, making this a useful book for anyone who wants a clearer picture of anorexia.
Readers will come to understand the mental nature of anorexia as Levenkron does: as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This concept is critical for family members and friends of anorexics to understand, for, as Levenkron states, it is impossible for anyone but a professional to cure an anorexic.
His major point: that the longer anorexia goes untreated, the more it strengthens its grasp on its victims, underscoring the need for *professional* help as early as possible. Therefore, if you think someone you know has an eating disorder, don't understand why, and don't know what to do about it, then this book is for you.
by Steven Levenkron offers a panoramic view beyond most medical treatises and personal accounts on Anorexia. For parents, the medical community and laypersons seeking to understand this seemingly unfathomable condition, this book sheds light on the ever present and haunting question, "Why would a seemingly healthy child or young adult purposely starve?" If you're searching for answers to the poignant questions surrounding this disorder, Anatomy of Anorexia provides more than clues and theories. This book reveals a path that may very well lead to the light at the end of the dark tunnel for patients, families and caregivers dealing with this wrenching and heart breaking disorder. This is an invaluble guide that fills a need not completely met by other books on anorexia nervosa. I agree with a previous reviewer that this book may not be suitable reading for some sufferers of anorexia. The knowledge within could prove to be a two-edged sword for the patient who hasn't fully embraced the long journey to recovery.