Chapter 16 discusses legal and ethical issues involved in providing therapy to persons who do not want to accept treatment. This is a critical issue for someone with anorexia nervosa (and often bulimia nervosa) when the individual’s life may be threatened by the disease. As discussed in the chapter, the first step in treating anorexia is weight gain, and often this means use of a feeding tube to force feed the patient. The insidious nature of anorexia creates strong resistance to weight gain and all strategies to promote weight gain, even in the face of permanent, lifelong physical ailments and even death.
Considering this dilemma (and perhaps jumping ahead to Chapter 16 to look at the issues involved in a patient’s right to refuse treatment), do you believe that someone has the right to refuse force-feeding? What issues are involved? How would you go about dealing with a situation like this? If you were the anorexic patient, how would you react? If you were that patient’s parent, what would you do? What role do you believe a physician or therapist should play? What other options might be available?
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