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I've never had anorexia, but I know it well. I see it on the street, in the gaunt and sunken face, the bony chest, the spindly arms of an emaciated woman. I've come to recognize the flat look of despair, the hopelessness that follows, inevitably, from years of starvation. I think: That could have been my daughter. It wasn't. It's not. If I have anything to say about it, it won't be.

Millions of families are affected by eating disorders, which usually strike young women between the ages of fourteen and twenty. But current medical practice ties these families' hands when it comes to helping their children recover. Conventional medical wisdom dictates separating the patient from the family and insists that "it's not about the food," even as a family watches a child waste away before their eyes. Harriet Brown shows how counterproductive—and heartbreaking—this approach is by telling her daughter's story of anorexia. She describes how her family, with the support of an open-minded pediatrician and a therapist, helped her daughter recover using family-based treatment, also known as the Maudsley approach.

Chronicling her daughter Kitty's illness from the earliest warning signs, through its terrifying progression, and on toward recovery, Brown takes us on one family's journey into the world of anorexia nervosa, where starvation threatened her daughter's body and mind. But hope and love—of the ordinary, family-focused kind—shine through every decision and action she and her family took. Brave Girl Eating is essential reading for families and professionals alike, a guiding light for anyone who's coping with this devastating disease.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062008619
List price: $10.99
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"Brave Girl Eating" is the story of Harriet Brown's struggle to help her daughter beat anorexia. It was a moving portrayal of what this disease does to a family and how it affects each member differently. I thought this book was well written and provided a good bit of factual information about the disease. As I read it I thought of my own daughter who at the age of 7 has a healthy relationship with food but this book illustrated to me how quickly and unexpectedly that can change. I ...more "Brave Girl Eating" is the story of Harriet Brown's struggle to help her daughter beat anorexia. It was a moving portrayal of what this disease does to a family and how it affects each member differently. I thought this book was well written and provided a good bit of factual information about the disease. As I read it I thought of my own daughter who at the age of 7 has a healthy relationship with food but this book illustrated to me how quickly and unexpectedly that can change. I hope that I will never have to use the tips I learned in this book to help my own child, but I am grateful to Harriet Brown for sharing them with me.more
Review OneThis is a book written by a mother for mothers. It is the story of a loving, well-educated and unusually sensible mother.Review TwoThis is the story of a mother who finds herself in a situation no mother wants. Brown is the mother of a daughter who won't eat, the mother of a daughter who is at risk of dying from anorexia nervosa. She is also a mother who discovers the medical profession and in particular the psychiatric profession is ill-equipped to step in and provide her and her family with what they so desperately need - effective and compassionate treatment. Review ThreeThis is the story of a mother who on making this 'discovery' is forced to read all the literature available and take 'therapy' into her own hands. In Brown's case this means refusing to hand over her daughter to 'experts', refusing to send her daughter away to a distant inpatient program. And instead wisely electing to embark on a "home-based" re-feeding program. Her decision - informed by the works of Salvador Minuchin, Chris Dare and Ivan Eisler and advocated by groups such as the Maudsley Parents - requires her, requires parent/parents set limits. Set firm and consistent psychological and physical boundaries. It is an approach which understands that no matter how stressful (and as Brown describes so well - it is deeply distressing and stressful for all concerned) it is vital the person with the condition feels safe, loved and knows that no matter how hard the journey is going to be their parents are not going to give up, not going to disappear, but rather insist that they eat. Review FourThis book powerfully illuminates how the current push towards a primarily biological and genetic based understanding of mentall ilness has significantly de-skilled the practice of medicine, the art of medicine. An art well-understood by psychiatric professionals such as Salvador Munichin who pioneered the family-based treatment approach to eating disorders.This art has been lost in part because of a heavy reliance these days on 'recipe-based', on 'cookbook', on 'insurance-like manuals' such as the DSM IV TR. These books with their focus diagnostic tools which resemble a tick-a-box mentality have created a climate in which professionals are discouraged from understanding the context in which a mental illness occurs. The psychological context in which treatment must occur.In other words the current focus on the 'biological' signs and understandings of anorexia nervosa have led to a therapeutic nihilism - a therapeutic desert. With many professionals unaware the illness needs to be treated in a holistic manner - that it is imperative any 'biological' understandings are incorporated within a psychological understanding of how best to treat.Review FourThe majority of interactions between Brown, her daughter Kitty and the medical profession as described by Brown are disappointing. And further illustrate how the push towards biological certainty, to brain scans and blood tests to determine the 'cause' of anorexia nervosa has whittled away the profession's competence and understanding of the psychological aspects of treatment. In Brown's case it is only a psychotherapeutically-trained nurse and a gentle family pediatrician who are capable of providing Brown and her daughter with what they need - support and an understanding of what they are trying to achieve.Review SixThis book takes aim at the "psychodynamic" understandings of anorexia nervosa, particularly the work of Hilde Bruch. Brown understandably and wisely wants to focus on recovery rather than play the blame game. However at times her determination to see and understand anorexia nervosa as primarily a 'biological disorder' as something that can appear out of the blue blinds her to the important contributions authors such as Bruch have made. Bruch was not interested in assigning blame but rather in understanding the psychological context of the illness and how recovery is all about putting in place a psychological framework that will enable the person with the illness to fully recover. A framework Brown herself, so wisely put in place.more

Reviews

"Brave Girl Eating" is the story of Harriet Brown's struggle to help her daughter beat anorexia. It was a moving portrayal of what this disease does to a family and how it affects each member differently. I thought this book was well written and provided a good bit of factual information about the disease. As I read it I thought of my own daughter who at the age of 7 has a healthy relationship with food but this book illustrated to me how quickly and unexpectedly that can change. I ...more "Brave Girl Eating" is the story of Harriet Brown's struggle to help her daughter beat anorexia. It was a moving portrayal of what this disease does to a family and how it affects each member differently. I thought this book was well written and provided a good bit of factual information about the disease. As I read it I thought of my own daughter who at the age of 7 has a healthy relationship with food but this book illustrated to me how quickly and unexpectedly that can change. I hope that I will never have to use the tips I learned in this book to help my own child, but I am grateful to Harriet Brown for sharing them with me.more
Review OneThis is a book written by a mother for mothers. It is the story of a loving, well-educated and unusually sensible mother.Review TwoThis is the story of a mother who finds herself in a situation no mother wants. Brown is the mother of a daughter who won't eat, the mother of a daughter who is at risk of dying from anorexia nervosa. She is also a mother who discovers the medical profession and in particular the psychiatric profession is ill-equipped to step in and provide her and her family with what they so desperately need - effective and compassionate treatment. Review ThreeThis is the story of a mother who on making this 'discovery' is forced to read all the literature available and take 'therapy' into her own hands. In Brown's case this means refusing to hand over her daughter to 'experts', refusing to send her daughter away to a distant inpatient program. And instead wisely electing to embark on a "home-based" re-feeding program. Her decision - informed by the works of Salvador Minuchin, Chris Dare and Ivan Eisler and advocated by groups such as the Maudsley Parents - requires her, requires parent/parents set limits. Set firm and consistent psychological and physical boundaries. It is an approach which understands that no matter how stressful (and as Brown describes so well - it is deeply distressing and stressful for all concerned) it is vital the person with the condition feels safe, loved and knows that no matter how hard the journey is going to be their parents are not going to give up, not going to disappear, but rather insist that they eat. Review FourThis book powerfully illuminates how the current push towards a primarily biological and genetic based understanding of mentall ilness has significantly de-skilled the practice of medicine, the art of medicine. An art well-understood by psychiatric professionals such as Salvador Munichin who pioneered the family-based treatment approach to eating disorders.This art has been lost in part because of a heavy reliance these days on 'recipe-based', on 'cookbook', on 'insurance-like manuals' such as the DSM IV TR. These books with their focus diagnostic tools which resemble a tick-a-box mentality have created a climate in which professionals are discouraged from understanding the context in which a mental illness occurs. The psychological context in which treatment must occur.In other words the current focus on the 'biological' signs and understandings of anorexia nervosa have led to a therapeutic nihilism - a therapeutic desert. With many professionals unaware the illness needs to be treated in a holistic manner - that it is imperative any 'biological' understandings are incorporated within a psychological understanding of how best to treat.Review FourThe majority of interactions between Brown, her daughter Kitty and the medical profession as described by Brown are disappointing. And further illustrate how the push towards biological certainty, to brain scans and blood tests to determine the 'cause' of anorexia nervosa has whittled away the profession's competence and understanding of the psychological aspects of treatment. In Brown's case it is only a psychotherapeutically-trained nurse and a gentle family pediatrician who are capable of providing Brown and her daughter with what they need - support and an understanding of what they are trying to achieve.Review SixThis book takes aim at the "psychodynamic" understandings of anorexia nervosa, particularly the work of Hilde Bruch. Brown understandably and wisely wants to focus on recovery rather than play the blame game. However at times her determination to see and understand anorexia nervosa as primarily a 'biological disorder' as something that can appear out of the blue blinds her to the important contributions authors such as Bruch have made. Bruch was not interested in assigning blame but rather in understanding the psychological context of the illness and how recovery is all about putting in place a psychological framework that will enable the person with the illness to fully recover. A framework Brown herself, so wisely put in place.more
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