by Ira M. Sacker
Warner Books, 2001
Review by Elizabeth Batt on Jun 22nd 2002
Eating disorders have reached
epidemic levels in America. Current statistics show that seven million women
and one million men currently suffer with an eating disorder and that of these,
86% report an onset of the illness by the age of twenty, according to the National
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Dying To Be Thin: Understanding
And Defeating Anorexia Nervosa And Bulimia-A Practical Lifesaving Guide, is
a no-nonsense book written by Ira M. Sacker, M.D the Director of the Eating
Disorders program at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, and Marc A. Zimmer, Ph.D.,
an Eating Disorders Specialist.
This powerful guide that strikes at
the core of anorexia, bulimia and bulimarexia, isn't for the faint of
heart. The authors do not hesitate to
hit the reader square between the eyes with hard statistics and cold facts
"As many as 15 percent of the men and women, boys and girls, who are
diagnosed as having anorexia nervosa will die from that disorder this
year." (p. xiii).
You are about to enter a secret
world the authors tell us
it is an irresistible invitation.
Many of us are aware of the
above-mentioned eating disorders but unless they are experienced first-hand, we
cannot possibly understand the complexity and diversity of these
illnesses. Any pre-conceived notions
that we might hold prior to reading this book are washed away within the first
few chapters. The secret world of
eating disorders isn't so secret anymore as this book's determination
shockingly strips away the blinkers.
The strength of the book rests with
the firsthand accounts of various sufferers.
While each might display a different systematic approach to the illness,
the essence of their suffering lies within the need to control a certain aspect
of their lives. As we are introduced to
the terrible medical side effects these disorders can incur, the authors
present actual statements by sufferers that help us to understand why the
anorexic or bulimic person endures the methodical torture that they impose upon
Each contribution from the sufferer
is followed by clearly defined medical advice that offers an evaluation of the
problem that the disorder sufferer is experiencing. Quite simply, it is the reading of the real-life experiences that
allow you to appreciate the delicate and difficult nature of these illnesses.
Once the authors have established
the basics of eating disorders, the book moves on towards the treatment of
them. While the basic characteristics
of an eating disorder might be the same, the authors insist that overall, each
sufferer is an individual and treatment must be administered on a case-by-case
If you are a victim of an eating
disorder then this book will show you how you can prepare for therapy and
treatment without setting yourself up for disappointment. The authors acknowledge that it is okay to
slip back "No one heals without a struggle. No one just decides to get well and then never has another
symptom or difficulty." (p. 186).
It is recognizing the small
successes and highlighting the achievements that might allow the sufferer to
This book does not solely rest with
those directly suffering, the final section of the book offers support for
family members, friends and even teachers that come into contact with a loved
one or student that has an eating disorder.
Once the illness has been recognized, the authors offer a "Twelve
Step" approach towards recovery.
For parents recognition that their child has an eating disorder is
encouraged as the first step, while for friends it is learning how to help
while remembering that he/she owns the problem and not you.
While it might be easier for family
and friends to actively get involved with recovery, the book acknowledges the
difficulty that teachers might face when trying to do the same. The chapter entitled, "How Every
Teacher Can Help," offers clear guidelines for teachers to follow. These guidelines suggest set paths a teacher
might utilize without compromising their position or the position of their
The book concludes with an
extremely useful section that offers additional resources and organizations
that can help. From further reading to
regional and state support groups, telephone numbers, addresses and websites
are supplied for those seeking direct or indirect help.
The authors of this book opened my
eyes to the secret world of the eating disorder. Powerfully presented it is heartbreaking and very difficult to
ignore the trauma a sufferer and their family will face. As a parent, I particularly appreciated this
book to be forewarned is to be forearmed and it is patently clear that
prevention in this case is far better than the cure. Every parent prior to their children reaching their teenage years
should read this book. Every child approaching
his/her teenage year should read this book and if you are a sufferer, or an
associate of a sufferer then you will find this book invaluable for guidance,
assistance and support.
ã 2002 Elizabeth Batt
Batt, Managing Editor Ancient & European History, Suite101.com
CE Kids British History
Community Manager - The History & Politics Suite
Managing Editor Ancient and European History