Cover image for Anatomy of anorexia
Anatomy of anorexia
Levenkron, Steven, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : W. W. Norton, 2000.
Physical Description:
302 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC552.A5 L478 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RC552.A5 L478 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The author of groundbreaking early works on anorexia discusses the latest treatments and offers up-to-date advice on how families can help their loved ones. Anatomy of Anorexia is a tremendous tool for families: Now more than ever, early diagnosis and treatment, and family participation, are crucial in preventing anorexia from becoming a chronic condition and can save the life of the anorexic. Writing for those who suffer from anorexia as well as their parents, friends, and therapists, Steven Levenkron traces the stages of the disorder from an innocent desire to "lose a few pounds" to the lethal stage of the disease where the life of the victim is at stake. He discusses the multiple origins of this disorder: childhood trauma, society's role in demoralizing girls and women by encouraging an obsession with body image, genetics, and familial origins. Families can participate in the detection and cure of the disorder by fostering a climate of understanding, support, and love.

Author Notes

Steven Levenkron is a psychotherapist in private practice & the best-selling author of "The Best Little Girl in the World". He lives in New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to the author, a psychotherapist who has treated close to 300 anorexics and written widely in the field (Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa, etc.), this very serious mental illness, which chiefly afflicts teenage girls, has a recovery rate of only 25%-35%. Because current health care policies severely limit hospitalization for anorexia, Levenkron concentrates on the importance of detecting early symptoms. Drawing on case studies from his practice, he outlines the progressive physical and psychological stages that, if unchecked, lead inexorably to life-threatening weight loss. Reacting to a societal obsession with thinness, adolescent girls at first delight in the sense of achievement they feel after successfully dieting away a few pounds. For some, it can lead to a compulsion to lose even more weight by engaging in rigorous exercise programs and severely restricting calories. When those close to a girl express concern about her thinness, the anorexic typically responds by aggressively defending her behavior, often frightening her parents--who usually wish to avoid exacerbating the situation--into leaving her alone. The anorexic now considers her thin body a special accomplishment and resists all efforts to make her gain weight. In this clearly written and informative study, Levenkron reviews several treatment options, including individual, group and family psychotherapy, self-help groups and behavior modification, as well as medication and hospitalization when necessary, and emphasizes the importance of tailoring treatment to the complex and highly individualized needs of each anorexic. He recommends combining professional treatment with altering negative family dynamics when possible--even between divorced parents--and fostering an atmosphere of communication and trust. Agent, Olga Wieser. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 11
1. Early Beginningsp. 19
2. Identity: Who Invents Us?p. 24
3. The Four Stages of Anorexiap. 33
4. Obsessional Origins in Anorexia Nervosap. 41
5. The Parents' Role in Preventing Anorexia in Childrenp. 50
6. The Family System and the Role of the Anorexic Childp. 62
7. The Social Origins of Femininityp. 73
8. Biological Influencesp. 81
9. When Causes Collidep. 90
10. Anorexia and College Attendancep. 99
11. Treatment Choicesp. 109
12. Transference and Creating an Alliance for Treatmentp. 126
13. Parents and Reparentingp. 139
14. Hospitalizationp. 171
15. Pregnancy and the Recovered Anorexicp. 185
16. Helpersp. 197
17. An Exceptional Casep. 211
18. The Nurturant-Authoritative Psychotherapistp. 223
19. Anorexia in the Nondysfunctional Familyp. 241
20. Incest Victims and Anorexia Nervosap. 254
Epiloguep. 279
Appendix A The Role of Medicationp. 281
Appendix B Resources for Anorexia Nervosap. 285
Recommended Readingp. 287
Indexp. 289