Friday, September 22News For London

Anorexia is narcissism, says Joan Bakewell

Baroness Joan Bakewell described eating disorders as “overindulgent, over-introspective and narcissistic” during an interview with The Sunday Times.

Joan Bakewell is a Labour peer, president of Birkbeck, University of London, a journalist and an author. She was speaking to The Sunday Times about the UK’s medical, health and illness book prizes when she made the comments.

She tweeted in the early hours of Sunday morning that she hopes her comments will increase public debate on eating disorders and further research.

How were Baroness Bakewell’s comments received?

Westminster World spoke to Harriet*, a former inpatient at The Retreat, a not-for-profit, private hospital providing care for those with eating disorders.

“It was very hurtful to read,” Harriet says. “It implies that everything I put my family through; the stress, the cost, everything, that it was all because I’m self-involved and wished I was better looking.

“Her comments were disgraceful really, I almost died. How can she think that people dying from anorexia don’t just want to get better?”

Many other people have taken to twitter to voice their opinions on the comments.

Twitter conversation between Baroness Blackwell and twitter user Emma Hatred, a prominent eating disorder activist and spokesperson who had earlier described Joan Bakewell's opinions as "completely ignorant, foolish [and] dangerous."
Twitter conversation between Baroness Blackwell and Twitter user Emma Hatred, a prominent eating disorder activist and spokesperson. Ms Hatred had earlier described Baroness Bakewell’s opinions as “completely ignorant, foolish [and] dangerous”. (Clarification of abbreviations used in the tweets: AN is anorexia, ED is Eating disorder.)
Some twitter users voiced their approval. One user agreed that more awareness was needed.

How much of a problem is Anorexia?

Original infographic created by Charlotte Staley for Westminster World. Data from the NHS Choices website.
Original infographic created by Charlotte Staley for Westminster World. Data from the NHS Choices website.

Under the current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines, people with eating disorders are referred to psychotherapists for assessment, monitoring and treatment.

 

*Harriet is a pseudonym.

Featured image credit: Creative commons, labelled for reuse with modification

Subedited by Katy Scott