BULIMIA: The Binge-Purge Compulsion by Janice M. Cauwels

BULIMIA: The Binge-Purge Compulsion

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A muddled attempt to explain an eating disorder that is not yet fully understood. The hard facts would fit into a short magazine article: the condition has several names (bulimia, bulimarexia, gorge-purging behavior); there is no agreement on whether or not it's an illness (it may have physical roots--or be a psychiatric disorder, or merely a habit); the affected population is not really known (the popular view of the successful, attractive business woman is not altogether accurate); different disciplines are applying different methods of treatment (behavior modification, analysis, medical intervention); and even the symptoms and behaviors are in dispute. Cauwels purports to present bulimia as a psychiatric illness, characterized by recurrent episodes of binge-eating, but other views are continually creeping in. Discussions of semantics, possible biological causes, the social context, and family profiles all contribute to the mire rather than helping to clear it, and eventually Cauwels falls into labeling: ""it doesn't matter whether the bulimic is a classic good girl or an impulsively promiscuous borderline."" Some helpful hints on finding therapy are provided (most important, be sure the therapist is willing to directly address the behavior), and some interesting questions are raised: Why the startling rise in eating disorder over the last few years? Are men undetected victims? Is there a link with alcoholism and drug abuse? Nonetheless, the book is premature--and a weak source even for the existing knowledge.

Pub Date: March 4th, 1983
Publisher: Doubleday