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Understanding the “Anorexic Brain”

forkJust the fact that there is such a phrase in use today – the “anorexic brain” – makes me realize how far medical science has come since I first contracted anorexia as an 11 year-old in 1981.

Those were dark days – no longer was a person who refused food automatically incarcerated in a general psych ward – but neither were they ushered straightaway into treatments tailored to their specific needs.

This, of course, was because there were no treatments tailored to the needs of anorexics….or bulimics, for that matter, or persons suffering from binge eating disorder or eating disorders not otherwise specified or any types of eating issues.

But today, thanks in large part to the work of Dr. Walter Kaye at the University of California-San Diego, and Dr. James Locke at Stanford University, we are staring into the face of an exciting (and long awaited) new era.

With the help of brain imaging research, we are beginning to understand what kinds of treatments make the most sense to help people heal from irregular eating patterns. This imaging research shows clear differences in brain activity when the brains of persons who have suffered from eating disorders are compared against the brains of non-eating disorders persons.

This means that, one day not long from now, we may have specific, tailored treatments that cater directly to those who have different types of eating issues – in much the same way as we now have specific treatments for cancer.


Just the fact that I am able to witness this evolution – within my own short lifetime – is nothing short of a miracle.

What I wouldn’t have given for a treatment designed just for ME, that 11 year-old anorexic girl shivering with cold, shame, fear, and hunger.

What I wouldn’t have done to believe I could share my struggles without being judged or condemned – even better, to be swiftly ushered into a compassionate atmosphere where the treatment administered would cater directly to my recovery needs.

What this teaches me yet agin, and reinforces in every way possible, is that there is never, EVER a reason to give up HOPE that recovery truly IS possible – and may even be just around the next corner!

If you would like to read the full article for yourself, here it is: The Anorexic Brain / Science News

Today’s Takeaway: If your life has been touched in some way by eating issues, perhaps you might like to participate in ongoing research to improve treatment and support options for patients and loved ones! Here is a short list of ways you can help.

Fork with one pea image available from Shutterstock.

Understanding the “Anorexic Brain”

Shannon Cutts

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Understanding the “Anorexic Brain”. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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