Can Eating Disorders Be Contagious?

Treating a patient with an eating disorder can often feel like walking on eggshells; it is easy to say or do the wrong thing. I’ve covered this topic in my previous posts. In my first post, I wrote about negative attitudes that health care providers often have with regard to eating disorder patients and in my second post, I covered some ways in which caring clinicians that do work with ED patients may – usually inadvertently – negatively impact treatment, often by impairing the physician-patient/caregiver relationship.

But let’s forget about clinicians for a second, what if the treatment environment itself is damaging? Could treatment itself do more harm than good?

That’s the question that Walter Vandereycken explored in this commentary article. (This interesting paper was brought to my attention by a reader – you know who you are, so thanks!)

And just to be really clear Vandereycken doesn’t mean contagious … Continue reading →

When Clinicians Do More Harm Than Good – Part 2 (Risks Associated with Treatment)

My previous post on the effectiveness of residential treatment centers (RTCs) generated a lot of discussion. A point that was raised several times, on the blog, on Facebook and other forums was the fact that there are risks in choosing an RTC for treatment.

Laura Collins did a great job of articulating some of the risks in her comment:

Among the risks: delaying necessary changes at home, disempowering or alienating relationships at home that are necessary for longterm health, exposure to behaviors and habits that had not been an issue previously, exposure to unhealthy relationships with other clients, an artificial environment that can’t translate to life after RTC, and therapeutic methods or beliefs that are false or don’t apply.

There risks are not specific to RTCs. They hold true for inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and to a lesser extent, outpatient treatment. I thought it would be nice to explore in more … Continue reading →