Decoding Anorexia : How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders book cover
1st Edition

Decoding Anorexia
How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders

ISBN 9780415898676
Published September 27, 2012 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Decoding Anorexia is the first and only book to explain anorexia nervosa from a biological point of view. Its clear, user-friendly descriptions of the genetics and neuroscience behind the disorder is paired with first person descriptions and personal narratives of what biological differences mean to sufferers. Author Carrie Arnold, a trained scientist, science writer, and past sufferer of anorexia, speaks with clinicians, researchers, parents, other family members, and sufferers about the factors that make one vulnerable to anorexia, the neurochemistry behind the call of starvation, and why it’s so hard to leave anorexia behind. She also addresses:
• How environment is still important and influences behaviors
• The characteristics of people at high risk for developing anorexia nervosa
• Why anorexics find starvation “rewarding”
• Why denial is such a salient feature, and how sufferers can overcome it
Carrie also includes interviews with key figures in the field who explain their work and how it contributes to our understanding of anorexia. Long thought to be a psychosocial disease of fickle teens, this book alters the way anorexia is understood and treated and gives patients, their doctors, and their family members hope.

Table of Contents

Foreword Cynthia M. Bulik.  Introduction: Off the Couch and Into the Brain.  1. From Starving Saints to Dieting Divas.  2. Interoception and the Insula.  3. Climbing the Family Tree.  4. Anorexia's Poster Children.  5. When Anorexia Brings Friends.  6. Starvation Becomes Obsession.  7. Adapted to Flee Famine.  8. Gym Rats.  9. Stepping Up to the (Dinner) Plate.  10. Oops, I Did It Again...  11. Standing at the Buffet of Life

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Carrie Arnold is a freelance science writer and blogs daily at She is an advisor to the advocacy organization FEAST (Families Empowered And Supporting the Treatment of Eating Disorders) and regularly appears at national and international eating disorder conferences.


"Decoding Anorexia is the first (if not the only) book that comprehensively explores the disorder from a biological perspective and translates a myriad of research findings into an easily accessible format. The combination of her skills and personal perspective, the products of her background as a scientist, science writer, and as someone who has struggled with AN, is what make this book an easy and enjoyable read." -C. Alix Timko, PsycCRITIQUES

“How can eating enough seem so simple and yet be so difficult for some people? This book simplifies the difficult enigma of eating disorders by interweaving up to the minute evidence with experience. A resource for both the professional and lay audience.” - Professor Janet Treasure, PhD, FRCP, FRCPsych, Kings College and South London and Maudsley Hospital, London

“Finding out that anorexia is a biologically-based mental illness is liberating. It sets you free to develop skills and embrace life. Decoding Anorexia explains why in a language that we can all understand.” - June Alexander, Anorexia survivor, Australia; Author, A Girl Called Tim; My Kid is Back; and A Collaborative Approach to Eating Disorders

“With turtles, deer, dandelions and orchids, Carrie Arnold deftly weaves her own experience of anorexia with the best biological science. This powerful and compelling book will help anyone gain a better understanding of a most complex, challenging and too often deadly illness.” - Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive, Beat, United Kingdom

“Carrie Arnold has done an outstanding job of translating complex and difficult research findings into understandable concepts. This book should be an essential guide for individuals with eating disorders and their families who would like to know more about how brain processes contribute to eating disorder symptoms.”Walter Kaye MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director, University of California, San Diego, Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program, USA