I have a friend who is a LCSW, with no special knowledge about eating disoders or working with eating disordered clients. If he has any specialty at all, it's alcohol counseling.
The other night, he proceeded to tell me that eating disorders are usually just bad habits. I asked why they are called eating "disorders" if they are not disorders, to which he simply said lots of things are called disorders these days that are just different ways of livng or bad habits. While this may be true for some things in the DSM, I don't think this is the case for EDs.
He tried to use some book about the "diseasing of America" to back up his point, but when I asked more about this book (did it reference EDs?), he informed me that he hadn't actually read the thing, just heard the title! (Rule #1: don't mention books in debate if you have not read them, let alone opened theml)
While there is popular debate about whether or not too many little boys are diagnosed with ADHD in the country (and so forth), I'm not sure those with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are in the same boat, nor do I think it's helpful for people to float about with the uninformed notion that deadly psychological disorders are merely bad habits like pulling the labels off of beer bottles when clubbing.
I do hope he never has to treat anyone with anorexia or bulimia. While they are ritualistic, they are not just bad habits that need to be broken. And I don't think having behavioral elements makes them so. I think writing them off as "oh, that's just a bad habit" does damage to understanding of EDs as well as those trying to get help. Pulling of beer labels is a bad habit, but it's not in the DSM and it doesn't exist for the reasons EDs tend to surface.
I am pretty tired of the media and most of the people I know in real life speaking dismissively about EDs, as silly habits that need to be changed, merely the "lifestyle" of the completely vain, or the next hot diet craze. None of these are true and none are useful.
Does anyone else have experience with those who are completely clueless about EDs? I told him, respectfully, that I didn't think he knew enough about the subject at hand to really sit there and say all EDs are bad habits. And I don't think he does. He became defensive and asked if he needed a PhD to have an opinion. I said he didn't, but in reality, some kind of education might lend him more credibility. If someone is going to go about a spout harmful ideas about a immensely painful and life-threatening disorder, it might be useful to have some sort of experience with it -- be it academic or personal.
The fact that he acts like his MSW degree makes his claims legitimate is kind of annoying since he had no real training in EDs at all.
So what do you guys think? Would you juet let it go ot try to educate him? Do you have people in your lives that say dismissive things about EDs or about those who have them? Maybe I will just give him some literature or something (though he obviously doesn't read a lot of the books he sees, it appears).