An article on drug development for anorexia caught my attention. See it at:
Here's the short version:
"Drugs to treat anorexia could be developed following research which
found physical changes to the brain in the womb may be partly
responsible for the condition.
"Researchers found that 70 per cent of anorexic children and young
people they studied showed signs of problems with neurotransmitters,
chemicals which help brain cells communicate.
"Their report, to be unveiled at a conference at the Institute of
Education in London this week, suggests that these developmental
changes meant the patients were particularly vulnerable to eating
disorders, prompting its authors to propose screening children at the
age of eight and experts to claim it could "pave the way for the first
"'Arguments that social factors such as girls feeling under pressure to
lose weight in order to look like high-profile women in the media
contain logical flaws because almost everyone is exposed to them, yet
only a small percentage of young people get anorexia.'
"Susan Ringwood, chief executive of Beat, an eating disorder charity,
said the research could 'pave the way for the first drugs to be
developed to treat eating disorders, similar to the way that anti-
depressants help rebalance the brain of people with depression'.
"'Parents always blame themselves,' she said, 'but what we are learning
more and more is that some people are very vulnerable to anorexia and
that is down to genetic factors and brain chemistry and not them
trying to look like celebrity models or suffering a major traumatic
even early in their lives.'
This piece clearly illustrates the social construction of "mental disorders." First, ignore the question as to whether or not eating disorders or depression exist or not. That's the topic of another blog.
Look at this paragraph:
"Parents always blame themselves," she said, "but what we are learning more and more is that some people are very vulnerable to anorexia and that is down to genetic factors and brain chemistry and not them trying to look like celebrity models or suffering a major traumatic even early in their lives."
The implicit message is that "mental disorders" (specifically eating disorders, depression) are caused by "genetic factors and brain chemistry" and that these changes "happen in the womb."
The authors imply, if something is caused by "genetic factors and brain chemistry", then it cannot be caused by social factors or family factors ("not trying to look like celebrity models or suffering a major traumatic event early in their lives." Of course, the other implication is that there is one cause and that the most proximate cause is brain changes that occur during fetal development.
The other implications is that psychological causes are equated to trauma and that parents are responsible for any trauma that children experience and will blame themselves (should, could, would) if suffering is due to trauma experienced.
What an interesting world view -- that we are robots to genetics and brain chemistry and that this is somehow preferable.
Do you see the binary thinking? Also, I wonder why parents would torture themselves about brain changes that happen in the womb.
In my view, of course, social relationships and social constructions (collective representations as well) create brains and modify genetics (epigenetics) and this type of binary thinking is simplistically dangerous in the sense that modifying brain chemistry without modifying social networks and relationships may short-term reduce symptoms but is long-term doomed to failure.