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Not every anorexic can be saved The woman I watched starve to death deserved better

Do we need the concept of terminal anorexia? Credit: Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia/BBC

Do we need the concept of terminal anorexia? Credit: Louis Theroux: Talking to Anorexia/BBC


September 27, 2023   6 mins

In the summer of 1995, I watched a woman starve to death. I was 19 and L was in her mid-30s, having suffered from anorexia since the age of 15. She looked unlike any person I have seen before or since. Enormous teeth with receding gums, yellow eyes rolling, and endless layers of clothing, with nothing, it seemed, beneath them. Ancient, and not quite human.

I think of her often, mainly because I — along with others in our anorexia treatment group — was mean to her. The severity of her illness both irritated and frightened us. It felt as though she was parodying us, representing sickness with all of the person taken out. The only fierceness she exhibited was with regard to food rituals: scraping out bread rolls, then rolling crumbs between her fingers, making Slim-a-Soup, then tossing three slops down the sink before taking one sip of the rest.

L’s diagnosis was the same as ours, and in some cases, her body weight was not dramatically different. Nonetheless, she seemed to inhabit a different space entirely. Like us, she might have been afraid of gaining weight, but she was beyond fearing recovery, that half-resisted, half-desired transformation of self. For L, the very idea seemed ridiculous. Everything had been burned away, every remaining muscle, every trace of her identity, to the point where one would have had to build an entirely new person in her place.

I am sure that today L would have met the criteria for a diagnosis of terminal anorexia nervosa. In 2022, US eating disorders clinician Jennifer Gaudiani, along with Joel Yager and Alyssa Bogetz, published a paper recommending palliative care and assistance in dying for anorexia sufferers who “simply cannot continue to fight”. (Bogetz, a sufferer herself, died before the paper’s publication.) Here in the UK, new NHS guidance has been issued for patients with severe and enduring eating disorders (SEED). The “SEED pathway” includes taking the focus away from “full recovery or weight gain” and offering “palliative care interventions focused on pain and symptom management”.

Many have reacted to this news with horror. I am horrified too, yet when I think of L, it gives me pause. The final weeks of her life were appalling. She had no peace, surrounded by people who could not accept her as she had become. Three days before she died, she was still going through the pantomime of “group lunch”, when we would sit round a table and act as if we could eat like “normal people”, in preparation for “afterwards”. Rather than prioritise her comfort, we challenged her over the breadcrumbs she’d flick across the table. We each told tales if we saw her hiding food, nominally concerned at her “lying to the group”, but also resentful about how her rule-breaking might reflect badly on us. Her last days on Earth were torment; she was forced to pretend — for our sake, not hers — that she had a chance.

I am against normalising the concept of terminal, incurable anorexia. At the same time, I know, both rationally and from experience, that some long-term sufferers do become unreachable. I am sure that offering them palliative care would lead to a better, more humane death. But it’s a position that makes me feel callous and compromised. If we start to redefine particular anorexia cases — especially if we start talking about them as “terminal” — we need to consider our long history of bad attitudes towards the illness.

There have been significant changes in public and medical interpretations of anorexia over the past 40 years. Many of them have been positive. When I was first diagnosed in the mid-Eighties, three things were generally known about the “slimmer’s disease”: Lena Zavaroni had it; Karen Carpenter died of it; non-famous sufferers were selfish, vain and attention-seeking. This was the environment in which women such as L and I first received treatment. In 1986’s Hunger Strike, Susie Orbach described Eighties treatment programmes as “predicated on conflict with the patient and her very difficult set of behaviours rather than on engagement with her and her feelings”.

My first hospitalisation was in 1987. I was force-fed and, until I gained weight, denied “privileges” — getting out of bed, going to the toilet alone, receiving books and letters, having conversations, even having the light on. I was, it was made clear to me, a bad person whose “performance” of illness was inconveniencing everyone else. I was 12 at the time. Looking back, I tend to think of what happened as formative, turning what might have been a relatively short illness into a state of long-term alienation from the body. Similar things, I suspect, may have happened to L. We were shrews in need of taming.

I would never wish to see the return of such attitudes. Coercion traumatised us and for the most part, it did not work. Old-style force-feeding usually targeted sufferers who had reached a stage of severe physical decline, little attention having been paid to earlier, psychological symptoms. Today, there is greater focus on early intervention, which has far better outcomes. There are evidence-based treatment models, such as Maudsley Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults (Mantra), which provides structure and long-term support. Anorexia diagnoses have increased significantly over the past 50 years, as have hospital admissions and the length of hospital stays — in contrast with decreases for other severe mental illnesses.

However, the mortality rate for anorexia remains the highest for any mental illness, at around 5.1 deaths per 1,000 person-years. Treatments are better informed and less likely to cause trauma, but have not necessarily improved for those furthest down the line. It’s here, I think, that the much-needed backlash against viewing sufferers as “wilful” may have had an unintended consequence.

There is far more compassion for anorexia sufferers now. We tend not to call them spoilt brats in need of a slap and a sandwich. But when I read works such as Hunger Strike, I cannot help feeling that the way in which we have resolved what Orbach called “the conflict” has not been through engagement so much as through retreat.

In recent years, I have noticed a drive to emphasise the (slight) genetic component to anorexia. The Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff has been explicit about the exculpatory potential of this, portraying it as liberation from “the idea that sickness must be someone’s fault, or that they could get well if only they chose to snap out of it”. In tandem, I have seen an increase in the portrayal of anorexia via metaphors such as that of the “Evil Friend Ana” who takes control of an innocent individual. The Beat website, for instance, includes a post on “Ana” versus “the real me” in which the sufferer describes herself as “a girl possessed”. But anorexia is not like schizophrenia; the voice you hear is your own.

I don’t think for a minute that anyone can “snap out of” anorexia. However, I feel that it is profoundly unhelpful to depict sufferers are having no agency, and to downplay the cultural, familial and political aspects. To insist, as I do, that anorexia is political is not to reduce it, but to recognise that eating, gender and the body cannot be understood outside of their social and historical context. Hatred of one’s own body, and of the act of putting food inside it, does not “just happen”, even if it seems like a bizarre invasion. I only really began to understand the factors that led to my own madness when I was in my forties, years older than L ever became.

The concept of terminal anorexia legitimises this idea of invasion, as though some bodies are simply infected with uninhabitability. But it has arisen at a time when many of the triggers of bodily alienation are more obvious than ever before. Sexual abuse; pornography; the diet and cosmetic surgery industries; the idealisation of underweight bodies; the objectification of pubescent girls; the belief that sexualised bodies represent inner identities. None of these is trivial. They might not be the things you are actually thinking about when you have anorexia, but I simply do not believe that anyone is born pre-programmed to reject their own body. It is a learned thought pattern.

To be clear, I am not proposing that anorexia, for all its symbolic potential, constitutes some well-thought-out rebellion against an oppressive society. As anyone who has had anorexia knows, it is not intellectually interesting as an experience; it is, for the most part, boring. You might appear unlike your growing, developing peers, but when you enter group therapy, you find that your symptoms match those of everyone else. You are in no way original.

I used to think there would be more dignity and less shame in viewing my own anorexia as mysterious and inexplicable. Thinking this way made recovery even more difficult: how can you recover, if none of it is really in your hands? “Terminal anorexia” seems to me the logical end point of denying the moral, political, and relational aspects of the disorder. It might make it easier to forgive the dying patient — to not hate and punish them — but it also denies society’s complicity. And once we say that anorexia has a terminal manifestation, can we ever unsay it? Once it becomes embedded in our understanding of what anorexia is, don’t we risk accepting that women such as L were never for this world?

And yet, in refusing to accept a terminal diagnosis, what do I ask of sufferers such as her? For them to hang on in there and try not to have a seizure in the occupational therapy room until the entire world gets fixed? In rejecting both the treatments of the past and the proposals of the present, I might seem to be wanting the worst of both worlds: neither forcing sufferers to live nor helping them to die. I know that a third option, helping them to live, is not always possible.

Nonetheless, I think we can distinguish between treatment programmes that focus on maintaining comfort rather than promoting weight gain, and ones that actually use words such as “terminal” and “palliative”. This might seem a subtle difference, but it matters. There has to be a middle ground, whereby showing compassion does not require us to abandon the principle that no one should be dying of anorexia at all. When L was dying, we treated her badly. To us, she was all illness, no person. I wish we had been better, but acceptance of the dying person should not come with acceptance of anorexia as a terminal disorder. It isn’t — or, if it is, it is only because we have made it so.


Victoria Smith is a writer and creator of the Glosswitch newsletter.

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Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

This is exactly the type of body dysmorphia that is being ‘treated’ with puberty hormones and sex re-assignment surgery for a different generation.
With such a strongly negative, and possibly mortal psychology at play, it is highly irresponsible of therapists and paediatricians to collude with surgeons and family insurance schemes, since this is happening predominantly in the US. Some, of course, will be thinking mostly about the money.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

I don’t think it’s the same thing.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
9 months ago

Thank you for sharing these profoundly moving thoughts and experiences. My heart aches for people who have body dysmorphia. At least there is a recognition that anorexia IS a mental illness. Sadly, so many children with a different type of body dysmorphia – gender dysmorphia – get no help at all. In fact they are encouraged in their delusion and confusion. They are given life-changing hormones and operations. There is an appalling rate of suicidal ideation amongst detransitioners who want to change their minds and reverse the sex change operation but can’t. I used to say, “Can you imagine if we validated anorexia sufferers in the same way? If we told them they were allowed to identify as a person who’s too fat and won’t eat because that was their lived experience…” Now I know that this is the new “pathway”, I’m horrified. The one treatment you didn’t mention is somatic healing. Championed by people like Peter Devine and Bessel van der Kolk, and Gabor Mate, it’s a therapy that releases trapped trauma in the body, which is often the root of psychological issues that play out physically. They’ve had a lot of success with anorexics and addicts. But more than anything, it is the spiritual vacuum modern society inhabits that leads to so much disease. Telling people they have a “terminal” illness is simply wicked.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
9 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

it is the spiritual vacuum modern society inhabits that leads to so much disease. 
Excellent observation and whilst not the exclusive driver I suspect has a significant and detrimental impact.Which of course implies that a “spiritual recovery” might have a part to play in getting well.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
9 months ago

I am not a self-described spiritual or religious person at all, although I certainly believe that we are not just animated biological machines. I don’t care what we call this immaterial component: energy, essence, soul, etc.

One’s state of mind certainly plays a role in physical recovery, but a terminal illness is called terminal for a reason! When the body’s biological functions cannot be maintained, it’s over and any fight is futile. I saw this first-hand when my husband’s father’s wife was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer. Both she and her husband refused to accept the diagnosis, but this refusal changed nothing. She died four months later having undergone painful and ultimately unnecessary treatments. I am not condemning them for the decisions they made, but I question the wisdom.

Earlier this year, I lost my beloved dog to cancer. He and I fought a fierce battle, as the tumour appeared very treatable, but ultimately I had to accept that we could not win. Jack was euthanised at home, surrounded by family and friends. He had a dignified death. I know that Jack and our other dog Louie intuitively understood that his life was nearing the end. Louie grieved and mourned for many months, but he accepted it. The experience has taught me more compassion and humility. Death is a natural part of life, as are the pain and sorrow of loss. The acceptance shown by my dogs had a purity and simplicity that is rare amongst people; it didn’t diminish the significance nor the consequences for those who are left behind. Perhaps that is true spirituality.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
9 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

I mostly agree with your comments, but I vehemently disagree that telling people they have a terminal illness is wicked. Why is that? I am not referring to the case described in the article, but end-stage, or terminal, illness in general. It exists, it’s a fact, and it’s the reason we have hospices and palliative care. I find it far more detrimental and counterproductive to give patients and their families false and unfounded hope than to help everybody accept that life is finite and to give people a chance to say goodbye. Death is unavoidable, and I believe that some forms of death are more dignified than others. Our spiritual forefathers accepted death, and had rituals in place to prepare for it. In today’s society we pretend that death doesn’t exist; we minimise and ignore its inevitability. If that’s what you mean by spiritual vacuum, I concur, but disease and illness have always been a part of life, and much more so in the past than today.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
9 months ago

Very touching article, thanks.

A couple of editorial points: as I pointed out in her previous articles on trans issues, the author studiously avoids the use of pronouns in those cases, while here she introduces them in line 2 without issue.

Also, at the end of the article she says that
“… many of the triggers of bodily alienation are more obvious than ever before”, one of which is “sexualised bodies represent[ing] inner identities”. I had to reread that passage more than once to realise she was talking about “gender affirming care”.
Why is the author tiptoeing around what many consider the “new” anorexia as social contagion?

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
9 months ago

Don’t be too hard on yourself about how you treated L – you were only 19 then. Very good article, thanks. It gave me such an insight into the difference between our modern age and of societies before now, in terms of girls and how the more vulnerable among them (vulnerable genetically, perhaps, or because of their family situation) are not protected any longer from the harmful effects of sexual objection. The media, the porn industry and unbelievable amounts of peer to peer communication and influence are to blame. But ultimately there must be a biological solution to the illness. These social factors hack the brain in a biological way, and there has to be a way of treating that.

Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
9 months ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

Many sufferers are male. I had it for years.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
9 months ago

Male anorexia in our family too.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
9 months ago

I didn’t realise. Thanks.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago

What a brilliant and wise article. I retired as a mental health clinician a while ago, so I know nothing about the new NHS guidelines, but I welcome them.
I have seen impatient and controlling treatment by professionals. Sometimes it’s a kind of God complex, more often it’s the stresses of having to do an impossible job, to try and keep someone alive when maybe their settled wish is to die, or maybe its not: and that’s a difficult place for staff to be.
I’ve had many conversations with people with this diagnosis, and I know there can be an impenetrability to how they can present that feels like psychosis, but not the usual kind. Sometimes, if we got too close to whatever felt like the core of what ailed them, they would choose to stop talking rather than go there.
The person themselves can’t put what ails them into words, the clinician can’t find a way in, so we are thrown back on physical stuff, calory counting, force feeding, and behavioural stuff, rewards and penalties, as if the person is a pet to be trained. We end up here because we can’t do nothing and watch the person starve to death, and we don’t know what else to do.
Standing back and allowing someone to die cuts across the instincts and ethics of mental health professionals, but perhaps in the case of terminal anorexia it may be necessary, but its hard, and staff need help with this too. We need to be reassured that we’re not terrible carers and we need to know that we’re not breaking the law, or are in danger of being struck off, if we do this.
The author is wise to see terminal anorexia in such tragic terms, it is tragedy, no one to blame in any meaningful sense, just an awful thing, to be managed as compassionately and realistically as possible.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

A beautifully deep post – “we can’t do nothing .. and we don’t know what else to do”.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Well said.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Sometimes, if we got too close to whatever felt like the core of what ailed them, they would choose to stop talking rather than go there….The person themselves can’t put what ails them into words

Your post makes me wonder about the potential of psychedelics to break through that wall. I suppose any extraordinary experience would do, but there few of those available in pill form.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

We used to do this, it’s called ‘abreaction’ and can use drugs or hypnosis [or both].The general idea is that if we break down people’s defences against this stuff being brought into the light then people can integrate it into their conscious schematic thought and deal with it better. We stopped doing it using powerful drugs because of some bad outcomes [I believe] and also because of better mainstream drugs. A person must give consent to this treatment, and if they are already that resistant to stuff being brought into the light then we’re stuck, unless we do it against their wishes and that’s an ethical mine field. I think there is a use for psychedelics, but we need to go carefully, it can be fraught with danger. I’ve never seen it done.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Sure. What interests me more than the drugs as such, is the ultimate power of transformative experience, and what that might say about meaning, helplessness etc. You could potentially get such effects through non drug means, such as surviving a plane crash, or saving a life – not a practical possibility, but some sort of rosetta stone to contemplate.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

There are transformative experiences [as well as destructive ones], but I guess they’re different for different people and can’t be predicted. Maybe experiences can be seen as transformative with hindsight, viewed in conjunction with other experiences. I wonder sometimes if being hospitalised and having a horrible time at the hands of unpleasant staff might by some alchemy, for some people, be seen as a transformative experience, their anger at the system energising them to climb out of whatever hole they’re in. I’m not suggesting an experiment, but who knows.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

“We used to do this, it’s called ‘abreaction’ and can use drugs or hypnosis” BTW – I’m guessing your clinic wasn’t adminstering the psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, MDMA)?

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Not my clinic, I’ve never done this, but I believe LSD has been used.

Dominic A
Dominic A
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Ok. I think the psychedlics have great potential, especially with regards to the chronic cases. This gets it about right I think –

https://proto.life/2022/02/psychedelics-offer-new-route-to-recovery-from-eating-disorders/

Initial therapeutic interest in the 1960’s stalled/were kyboshed in the wake of Leary & Nixon’s excesses. Let cooler heads prevail.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I read your link with great interest. Certainly psylocybin seems to have good potential in treating intractable illnesses. She’s right in saying that people with severe anorexia can’t engage in the process of recovery, we’re all at sea, both patient and clinician, so something that breaks up the inflexible, intangible behaviour patterns would be very useful. I know that good work has been done using psylocybin with PTSD, more my line of work and arguably less perplexing than eating disorders. We still need skilled one to one work to consolidate and make sense of any psylocybin breakthrough and whatever we do, we still have the protective anxiety around anorexia to deal with. My time is done, its over to the next generation, I wish them well.

Jacqui Ford
Jacqui Ford
9 months ago

“It is the spiritual vacuum modern society inhabits that leads to so much disease.” I strongly agree. Finding my identity in Christ Jesus when I was 16, gave me a firm foundation on which to build my life and I have never looked back! Knowing I am loved by Almighty God with whom I have an ongoing relationship and who provides for my needs on a daily basis, has enabled me to accept myself as I am and stay on an even keel through the difficult times. Would that those with such a hatred of their own bodies could find such love and acceptance.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Jacqui Ford

The god thing doesn’t work for everyone.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  Jacqui Ford

It would be a brave person indeed who argued that people with strong religious faith never become anorexic.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
9 months ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorexia_mirabilis
One wonders how or if the Church was able to prevent women starving themselves to death. Church records indicate that male and female religious who fasted to the point of illness were castigated for their behaviour.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

So apparently castigation didn’t work either.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It would be interesting to know how many religious died from their impenitent fasting, or if faith put a brake upon these strange impulses.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
9 months ago

Dr. Dee Dawson, the psychiatrist who founded the Rhodes Farm eating disorder clinic for children and adolescents in North London told me in 1999 that one third of her patients were young boys.
She also said that no amount of therapy would do her patients the slightest bit of good if they were permitted to starve themselves to death whilst in her care, and therefore her efforts were always focused on getting her patients to eat. Many had deep-seated issues and these would take a lot of time to resolve, meanwhile they were likely to kill themselves without intervention.

Last edited 9 months ago by UnHerd Reader
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

When I was 12 years old I became unable to eat. I wanted to but couldn’t. My mother consulted a doctor and he gave her, what I presume, were some kind of tranquilizers, and I gradually became able to eat. In hindsight I think it was hormone related, pubescent anxiety. It wasn’t body dysmorphia, but I wonder if it hadn’t been dealt with at the time if it might not have become something more entrenched.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
9 months ago

All very puzzling. But let’s leave aside the wider philosophical questions about the nature of society, etc. etc. and simply ask, which treatments, if any, are successful and which are not?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Exactly and what are the stats for cure versus those who die.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

‘I know that a third option, helping them to live, is not always possible.’
I think this is a crucial argument within the article, but it needs unpacking a little. Medicine is only ever as good as the best we can do at the time. Our approach to anorexia today is very much better than it was 30 years ago, and there is no reason to believe that it won’t go on getting better in the future. In the meantime, this disturbing grey area, in which some sufferers are apparently beyond help, is likely to be a primary source of the advancements in the treatment of anorexia we will make in the future. As the author says, ‘There has to be a middle ground, whereby showing compassion does not require us to abandon the principle that no one should be dying of anorexia at all.’

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
9 months ago

Severe anorexics are similar to long-term drug addicts. Both are behavior conditions which have very poor long-term outcomes. Treatment for each follows the same options: medical embrace and management (needle exchanges for addicts, palliative care for anorexics), or forced rehab (inpatient drug treatment for addicts and institutionalization and forced calorie intake for anorexics).
Since our guiding philosophy is “maximal individual autonomy”, I suspect we will take the former path in both cases.

jane baker
jane baker
9 months ago

Tiresome middle and upper class people with “too much choice”,too much opportunity and Too Much Money. Go and live on a rubbish heap in the Philippines and whinge about your hard life there. No one’s listening.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

It’s not a matter of either or, Jane. One can care about people who are starving through choice and also those who are starving from lack of access to food.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I’m astounded that, despite living on a rubbish heap in the Philippines, you have access to the internet.ï»ż

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
9 months ago
Reply to  Huw Parker

That rubbish heap probably has better broadband than much of the UK …

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago

People have a right to their bodily sovereignty.
Others have no right to try to fix them.

Max Price
Max Price
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

A simplistic, unhelpful contribution.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I’m struggling with your second sentence.
Do you mean, as I interpret it, that no one has a right to help these people? Which I don’t agree with, and find a bizarre statement (notwithstanding what “fix” actually means in any given context).
Or were you trying to say that there is no right to compelled help? Something which I would agree with.

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

You find it “bizarre” that you shouldn’t try to interfere in someone else’s life simply because it’s not being conducted in the way you approve?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Considering that isn’t what I said when asking you a fairly simple question to clarify your point, no I do not think enforced interference is right.

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

We agree.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

So what do we do with actively suicidal people? Is it wrong to take them to a secure hospital or temporary cell and deny them access to things that can hurt them? Is it wrong to mandate they take medication?

Jim M
Jim M
9 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

They should be force fed until they have attained normal body weight. After that, if they refuse therapy, put them on the street.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

That’s cruel.

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

There is no greater freedom in life than deciding when and how you want to die.
It is wrong to mandate anything that affects others.
Help can be offered, nothing more.

Last edited 9 months ago by William Shaw
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Yes, it’s wrong to mandate they take medication. And stopping someone from dying who wants to is a whole other conversation.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Here we go again. Though I hate the ever expanding intrusiveness and totalitarianism of the nanny state and believe we all have a right to our own vices, I can’t see my way to just letting people destroy themselves due to what is obviously severe psychological illness. I would suggest that there’s a chilling indifference to other human beings underlying your arguments.

Jim M
Jim M
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

They are unfit for living. The weak must die.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

That’s a disturbing comment.

William Shaw
William Shaw
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

I strongly object to the term “chilling indifference.”
It’s possible to empathise while simultaneously having firmly held principles that dictate non-interference in the lives of others, regardless of how they choose to live (or die).

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Exactly.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Not at all. Isn’t that freedom what you would want for yourself if you no longer wanted to live?

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Anorexia is obviously extremely self destructive and far too often fatal, but I wouldn’t equate it with a straightforward act of suicide, which you seem to be doing here. As a side note, laws against suicide are absurd and irrelevant. What’s the punishment supposed to be?

Jim M
Jim M
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I’m sick of the mentally ill. All this prattling on about compassion and keeping the unfit alive is destroying society. Not everyone lives to adulthood who is born. Some people, due to luck or genetics, are going to be losers. They need to die quickly and without an audience. Don’t let the unfit breed.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

How about we concentrate them in camps, where we could then administer a final solution?

Last edited 9 months ago by starkbreath
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Another scary comment.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Thought you would have the intelligence to recognize irony when you see it, guess not.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Not from you. I didn’t think you even knew what irony was.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

When on the ropes, go with a cheap shot. At least you didn’t post, ‘Rubbish’ or ‘No it’s not’.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

You’re being ironic, right?

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Doug Mccaully

Of course, thought the wording would have made that obvious.

Doug Mccaully
Doug Mccaully
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Just checking

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Apparently not.

starkbreath
starkbreath
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Some people would rather flaunt their virtuous moral outrage than think in depth about things.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim M

I hope that includes you.

Huw Parker
Huw Parker
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Don’t sink to his level. There is a terrible irony here, which that he is clearly a deeply, deeply unhappy and / or unfulfilled individual.

Kate Hart
Kate Hart
9 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Many want help to overcome illness. Many suicidal people later cherish the fact they are alive. You view this abject illness as a matter of choice – that’s possibly your misinterpretation. Strange considering you must have read the balanced, sensitive article about a hugely complex issue.