Let Them Eat (genetically engineered) Cake

About the food industry, not in a nice way

Archive for June, 2010

hey, i’m mentally ill

Posted by jeanne on June 30, 2010

this is great.  it’s so funny it’s got to be true.  if you care about what you eat, you need to be medicated.

Healthy food obsession sparks rise in new eating disorder

Fixation with healthy eating can be sign of serious psychological disorder

Amelia Hill, The Observer, Sunday 16 August 2009Eating disorder charities are reporting a rise in the number of people suffering from a serious psychological condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.

The condition, orthorexia nervosa, affects equal numbers of men and women, but sufferers tend to be aged over 30, middle-class and well-educated.

The condition was named by a Californian doctor, Steven Bratman, in 1997, and is described as a “fixation on righteous eating”. Until a few years ago, there were so few sufferers that doctors usually included them under the catch-all label of “Ednos” – eating disorders not otherwise recognised. Now, experts say, orthorexics take up such a significant proportion of the Ednos group that they should be treated separately.

“I am definitely seeing significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago,” said Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association’s mental health group. “Other eating disorders focus on quantity of food but orthorexics can be overweight or look normal. They are solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.”

Orthorexics commonly have rigid rules around eating. Refusing to touch sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods is just the start of their diet restrictions. Any foods that have come into contact with pesticides, herbicides or contain artificial additives are also out.

The obsession about which foods are “good” and which are “bad” means orthorexics can end up malnourished. Their dietary restrictions commonly cause sufferers to feel proud of their “virtuous” behaviour even if it means that eating becomes so stressful their personal relationships can come under pressure and they become socially isolated.

“The issues underlying orthorexia are often the same as anorexia and the two conditions can overlap but orthorexia is very definitely a distinct disorder,” said Philpot. “Those most susceptible are middle-class, well-educated people who read about food scares in the papers, research them on the internet, and have the time and money to source what they believe to be purer alternatives.”

Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, said: “There is a fine line between people who think they are taking care of themselves by manipulating their diet and those who have orthorexia. I see people around me who have no idea they have this disorder. I see it in my practice and I see it among my friends and colleagues.”

Jade believes the condition is on the increase because “modern society has lost its way with food”. She said: “It’s everywhere, from the people who think it’s normal if their friends stop eating entire food groups, to the trainers in the gym who [promote] certain foods to enhance performance, to the proliferation of nutritionists, dieticians and naturopaths [who believe in curing problems through entirely natural methods such as sunlight and massage].

“And just look in the bookshops – all the diets that advise eating according to your blood type or metabolic rate. This is all grist for the mill to those looking for proof to confirm or encourage their anxieties around food.”

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random, or purposeful?

Posted by jeanne on June 5, 2010

i’m mildly autistic, as an artist.  it’s a good trait because i don’t respond in a ‘normal’ cultural way, because the ‘normal’ way just doesn’t make sense to me.  so my art isn’t normal either.  which is why i don’t sell, but never mind that.  autistic people (and i suspect there are many more out there than anyone thinks, it being a spectrum) don’t tend to see the hand of fate, karma, or god behind things that happen.  they are okay with a universe that happens randomly.

if you read the article, you’ll see at the end where they’re investigating schizophrenia for a similar reaction.  but with schizophrenics, they’re looking for the opposite – people who see another’s hand in absolutely everything.

while i’m slightly autistic, i must be much more paranoid and schizophrenic, because i never see random.  it’s always highly organized, very meaningful, and intensely metaphorical.

May 29, 2010 05:30 PM

People with Asperger’s less likely to see purpose behind the events in their lives

By Karen Schrock

BOSTON—Why do we often attribute events in our lives to a higher power or supernatural force? Some psychologists believe this kind of thinking, called teleological thinking, is a by-product of social cognition. As our ancestors evolved, we developed the ability to understand one anothers’ ideas and intentions. As a result of this “theory of mind,” some experts figure, we also tend to see intention or purpose—a conscious mind—behind random or naturally occurring events. A new study presented here in a poster at the 22nd annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science supports this idea, showing that people who may have an impaired theory of mind are less likely to think in a teleological way.

Bethany T. Heywood, a graduate student at Queens University Belfast, asked 27 people with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild type of autism that involves impaired social cognition, about significant events in their lives. Working with experimental psychologist Jesse M. Bering (author of the “Bering in Mind” blog and a frequent contributor to Scientific American MIND), she asked them to speculate about why these important events happened—for instance, why they had gone through an illness or why they met a significant other. As compared with 34 neurotypical people, those with Asperger’s syndrome were significantly less likely to invoke a teleological response—for example, saying the event was meant to unfold in a particular way or explaining that God had a hand in it. They were more likely to invoke a natural cause (such as blaming an illness on a virus they thought they were exposed to) or to give a descriptive response, explaining the event again in a different way.

In a second experiment, Heywood and Bering compared 27 people with Asperger’s with 34 neurotypical people who are atheists. The atheists, as expected, often invoked anti-teleological responses such as “there is no reason why; things just happen.” The people with Asperger’s were significantly less likely to offer such anti-teleological explanations than the atheists, indicating they were not engaged in teleological thinking at all. (The atheists, in contrast, revealed themselves to be reasoning teleologically, but then they rejected those thoughts.)

These results support the idea that seeing purpose behind life events is a result of our mind’s focus on social thinking. People whose social cognition is impaired—those with Asperger’s, in this case—are less likely to see the events in their lives as having happened for a reason. Heywood would like to test the hypothesis further by working with people who have schizophrenia or schizoid personalities. Some experts theorize that certain schizophrenia symptoms (for instance, paranoia) arise in part from a hyperactive sense of social reasoning. “I’d guess that they’d give lots of teleological answers; more than neurotypical people, and certainly far more than people with Asperger’s,” Heywood says.

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