"The Treatment of Eating Disorders" is a good example of a paper on metabolic problems. It is one of the honest and upsetting documentaries that I have seen, depicting the struggles and complexities of the lives of women suffering from anorexia. The most interesting part of the movie or I must say, pathetic, was the handling of the patients and the treatment meted out to them by the so-called eating disorder facilities. Even as a layman, I thought treatment to such an illness would have included working on their self-esteem, as Anorexia is all about the patient’ s distorted image of the self, coupled with several misconceptions about food, eating and other issues.
One of the girls at the beginning of the movie candidly says “ I used to have a personality” . (Greenfield, 2006). These words reflect how battered their self-confidence is and this loss of self is put across by most of them throughout the film. However, except for the one scene where the doctor asks a girl to draw the perceived image of how she looks and points out the difference between the actual her and the perceived her, there is not much done at the facility on improving the way they think about themselves. When people who are supposed to treat this disorder behave in such a bureaucratic way, with stringent rules and policies, it is no wonder that the family and the friends of such people do not understand the complexity of the disorder.
This further frustrates and pushes them to depression, and some patients take the extreme step of ending their life, as they are unable to go on. So, the appropriate audiences for this documentary are the family, friends, doctors, and others, apart from the target audience of females who have issues with their body image.
We see a father feeling helpless, a sister feeling frustrated, and a mother being indifferent. All this shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the “ organic circle” surrounding the patient. More often than not, it is the family and the society at large that unconsciously trigger the onset of these disorders in the minds of young women. The scene where the mother of a patient sitting at lunch with her daughter, disparages and picks apart the food served to her, completely oblivious of the negative impact that her action could be having on her daughter or a pediatrician who had prescribed dieting to a girl of 7, which started her on the road to eating disorders are examples of the role that society unwittingly plays. The movie throws light into the reality and the complicated nature of the disorder.
It shows that overcoming such a disorder takes a lot more than disciplinary rules and counseling sessions, as depicted in the story of Alisa.
She is someone who works hard to overcome the disorder and responded seemingly well to the treatment. However, in the end, when she gets discharged from the facility and goes to live with her family, it is sad to see her purging in the solitude of her bathroom and going back to the old ways. Anorexia is an illness, something more than just controlling the patient’ s will, as is shown by these otherwise intelligent, young women.
Thus the core message of ‘ THIN” is, everyone associated with it, be it the patients themselves, the treating doctors, family or the society at large, should clearly understand the illness and its nuances. Though the movie does not end on a happy note, it does serve as a significant eye-opener into the world of such patients. Their emotional struggle and the treatment that they get at such facilities lays bare the harsh realities of the society. This documentary can be a learning tool for educators and everyone else, irrespective of whether they are affected or not.
This is because when the educators see the suffering being undergone by the women affected by obesity and become aware of it, they can educate other prospective women who have high chances of suffering a similar fate. Care and treatment for eating disorders are mostly expensive as they involve a host of specialists like psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, nutritionists, and others. On average, residential programs, like the one shown in the movie costs around $30,000 a month. (Tapia, 2013). Patients are mostly subjected to 3-4 months or more of intensive, in-patient treatment followed by many years of regular out-patient care.
The River Centre clinic at Ohio charges a fee of $800 a week (7days) for the Adolescent Residential program and a fee of $600 a week (5days) for the Partial Hospitalization program. They also provide out-patient Programs at a fee of $350 a week (5days) (“ Cost-Effective Innovations, ” n. d). Most patients opt for insurance to finance their treatments, however, they face several issues with the coverage as long term treatment is routinely denied by the companies on the grounds that there is no strong evidence of how such disorders can be treated.
“ Eating disorders pose a unique treatment challenge in comparison to other psychiatric illnesses, ” says Dr. Evelyn Attia, director of the eating disorders research program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (qt. by Alderman, 2010). Several patients continue with the treatment until their insurance runs out as being portrayed in the film or end up paying from the family finances, most often from that of their parents (as it affects youngsters more). There is also the fact that most insurance companies do not cover full residential programs or the best institutes available. However such institutions play a vital role in the treatment of eating disorders.
Not only should there be individual treatment, but importance must also be given on group and family therapy to prevent relapse when they get back to the real world. Professional training is essential for developing social and emotional skills among the affected women in order to make them feel assertive and responsible for their own lives. More than anything, a happy and joyful eating environment, coupled with people who are empathetic and understanding are the dire needs of patients suffering from eating disorders.
In one of the scenes, a girl named Polly is shown to be writing about her faults all over her picture, with the last words being “ HELP ME” . These worlds ideally capture the essence of the movie - the silent plea for help from the patients suffering from eating disorders that are left unheeded by the institution and metaphorically, by the outside world.
“Cost-Effective Innovations.” (n. d.). River Centre Clinic. Retrieved from:
Alderman, L. Treating Eating Disorders and Paying for It. Retrieved from:
Greenfield, L. (2006). Thin. Retrieved from:
Tapia, A. (2013). Anorexia Treatment Centers. Retrieved from: