ERespond to at least two colleagues who identified a different pro-eating disorder website. Compare the two sites identified by your colleagues and if you see a pattern in the ways the websites approach this subject. Does there seem to be a predominant theory that is supported in these websites?
Colleague 1: Brooke
According to the DSM-5, the diagnostic criteria for determining the presence of an eating disorder includes the consistent disruption of daily functioning, due to eating behaviors that adversely affects both psychological and physical health (APA, 2013). Combatting an eating disorder can be a lifelong process, requiring consistent support through a variety of means. Research supports the efficacy of group work, as well as individual counseling (Peebles, Wilson, Litt, Hardy, Lock, Mann and Borzekowski, 2012). Additionally, in this age of technology, internet sites can be accessed quickly and easily, offering another means of gaining information and support for those plagued with an eating disorder.
However, not all of the accessible websites provide the support geared toward regaining a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, there are – unfortunately – pro ana (anorexia) or pro mia (bulimia) websites that were designed specifically for individuals who want to maintain their unhealthy eating habits, and have access to support to do so with these websites (Peebles, et. al., 2012). Although within the past decade many of these websites have been removed from the internet, there are still some that remain. For example, http://www.myproana.com, claims to be a website providing support for individuals who need to come and “meet” with others sharing similar challenges, yet upon closer examination, it is clear that there is no motivation from its followers to regain their health (Helser and Jacatout, 2003). Rather, there was rather disturbing images of girls posting pictures of their naked bodies, often accompanied by their weight; clearly, the lower the number, the prouder of themselves these girls – and other members – became. In one particularly frightening account, one member captioned her photo of her 72 lb. body with “Please comment below. Fat shaming welcome to provide motivation” (Helser and Jacatout, 2003). The website included tabs for chat rooms (to which I did not have access), photo gallery, and a member profile section. This website perpetuates the criteria established by the DSM-5. This consistent support in pro eating disordered behavior allows for the disorder to pervasively remain in the individual’s life, affecting both their psychological and physical health.
Fortunately, there are more recovery websites on the internet, designed to provide consistent support to individuals truly trying to regain their emotional and physical health. Recovery Ranch, www.recoveryranch.com, is an inpatient program that provided mental health rehabilitation to women diagnosed with eating disorders, drug and/ or alcohol addiction, personality disorders and sexual addiction or intimacy issues (Drug & Mental health Treatment Center, n.d.). Their informational website, however, has several links to provide this support through the internet, including blogs, chat threads, information regarding community based resources, and diagnostic tools to gage individualized success. The website explores several methods of combatting negative, harmful perceptions, including cognitive behavioral therapies, dialectical behavioral therapies, individual counseling, fitness and wellness promotions and adventure therapy (Drug & Mental health Treatment Center, n.d.). There is strong advocacy for ongoing, consistent intervention to ensure the most positive outcomes. The underlying mission of this program, as evidenced by the website, is to promote the emotional and physical well being of all individuals working toward the betterment of their life. All accessible messages found throughout the website, were rooted in hope, positivity and health.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
(5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Drug & Mental Health Treatment Center. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2017, from
Helser, R., & Jacatout, L. (2003). Forum and Community. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from
Peebles, R., Wilson, J. L., Litt, I. F., Hardy, K. K., Lock, J. D., Mann, J. R., & Borzekowski, D.
(2012). Disordered eating in a digital age: Eating behaviors, health, and quality of life in users of websites with pro-eating disorder content. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14(5), 305–320.
Colleague 2: Pasha
The DSM represents the behaviors and symptoms of people dealing with eating disorders. Per the DSM, there are four major eating disorders, with several other serious illnesses and disturbances. The earlier an eating disorder is detected, the better chances of recovery. Research indicates that approximately 10% of the young women population meet the DSM criteria for some form of an eating disorder (Stice, Marti & Rohde, 2013). Although the DSM-IV eating disorder diagnoses were an improvement over time, there are still over half of clients who fall under the ED-NOS criteria (eating disorder, none otherwise specified). The new criteria in the DSM has only been recently proposed and upgraded, but still carries unanswered questions about these diagnoses. For example, there is limited data on whether the newly proposed disorders can be linked to functional impairment (Stice, Marti & Rohde, 2013).
The website that I chose to study this week is from a website that explores cyberspace as a site in which women who are struggling with eating disorders can find sanctuary from the surveillance of public sphere (Dias, 2003). This literature indicates that one in five women have suffered from some sort of eating disorder and that anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents (Dias, 2003). This website further supports the criteria and narratives of eating disorders per the DSM. Both this website and the DSM indicate that most all eating disorders are stated as “recurrent or persistent disorders”. Additionally, these disorders typically occur every two hours. The stigma and shame that come with both diagnostic labeling and society’s misunderstanding of eating “disorders” contribute to women’s need to find creative ways to connect and find support (Dias, 2003).
In regards to recovery websites for those struggling with eating disorders may find helpful is one written by Ann Hull with the SMART Recovery/ Hull Institute. This website hosts online meetings, forums, 24/7 chat, recovery journals and more. This website stresses how “disordered” eating’s are complicated and difficult to overcome. What women or men can find helpful out of this website is the ability to discuss their issues in a safer and less confronting space. For many women, their bodies have become “arenas for feelings” for dealing with unresolved traumas, abuse, injustices and more (Hull).
This website offers “SMART” recoveries for eating disorders and addictions. Here, building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts and feelings and living a balanced life are the goals and future outcomes with this website. Eating disorders are like other addictions because, without treatment, they will get worse and often result in death (Hull). Up to half of people with substance abuse addictions also have eating disorders. Anyone who is seeking recovery knows how easy it is to change one’s addiction; from drugs, gambling, spending etc. The notion of “ethical” Internet research is a current and ongoing topic of debate. The Internet provides many ambiguous areas in terms of what constitutes ethical research of widely accessible material. Because many on-line sites are openly accessible to the public, obtaining informed consent is often not done. However, care needs to be taken to exercise that the “fair use” of contributions to public forums respects participants’ privacy and protects them from harm (Verstuyf et. al, 2013).
Dias, Karen (2003). The Ana Sanctuary: Women’s Pro-Anorexia Narratives in Cyberspace. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 4 (2), 31-45. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol4/iss2/4
Stice, E., Marti, C., & Rohde, P. P. (2013). Incidence, impairment, and course of the proposed DSM-5 eating disorder diagnoses in an 8-year prospective community study of young women. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(2), 445–457.
Van Pelt, Jennifer. (2009). Eating Disorders on the Web – The Pro-Ana/Pro-Mia Movement. Social Work Today, Vol. 9, No. 5, P. 20.
Verstuyf, J., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., Boone, L., & Mouratidis A. (2013). Daily ups and downs in women’s binge eating symptoms: The role of basic psychological needs, general self-control, and emotional eating. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32(3), 335–361.
Respond to a colleague who chose a different political strategy than you. Offer a supportive insight based on your own experience as a social worker and/or policy advocate.
Colleague 1: AnnaVi
Creating a political strategy that protects revictimization for individuals like Susana, Levy and Bradley family requires skillful policy advocates that use policy practice skills to bring attention to the strategy but keep it going (Jansson, 2018). For girls like Tiffany who has had prior arrest records, I would devise a policy to have her criminal record of prior prostitution arrest be expunge and permanently removed from her record. If the new policy states that Tiffani is a victim, then all arrest/charges associated with prostitution should also be expunged and removed from her record (Laureate Education, 2013). Therefore the strategies that I would utilize to bring attention to this matter is to partner up with a big organization, specifically those that work with trafficking in hopes for receiving support and sponsors. Jansson (2018) states that policy advocates will need to locate sponsors that support the proposal. During this point, the policy advocate will write a policy brief to gain support of sponsors by providing recommendations and the overall position of the advocate. The reason for this strategy is to have allies and supporters of the proposal. According to McNutt (2011), advocates partner up with big, small and grass root organization for access to resources, support and funding. I chose this strategy because there is strength in numbers, if the policy strategy is well supported, backed up by sponsors, state officials and organizations, there is a likelihood of getting attention and consideration to pass the proposal.
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Laureate Education. (Producer). (2013). Bradley (Episode 7 of 42) [Video file]. In Sessions.
McNutt, J. (2011). Is social work advocacy worth the cost? Issues and barriers to an economic analysis of social work political practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 21(4), 397-403.
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