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Review: Louis Theroux – Talking to Anorexia
Travel Editor Olivia Woodington breaks down another insightful Louis Theroux documentary as he returns to our shores to investigate the impact of Anorexia Nervosa
“What’s it like being here?” Louis Theroux questions a patient on the Phoenix Wing at St. Ann’s hospital, “like prison!” is the response shouted by another inpatient on the unit. Talking to Anorexia is Louis Theroux’s latest documentary shown on BBC Two on Sunday night. After a few weeks investigating Dark States, he returns to our screens, having touched down in the UK, this time Theroux is exposing the world’s most fatal psychological disorder, Anorexia.
“What many people cease to understand with the disease, is that sufferers of anorexia often are great lovers of food
Janet, aged 63, was first diagnosed with the disease in her 30’s. She has found that anorexia has not only destroyed her relationship with food, but also her relationships with the people she’s loved. For lunch, anorexia limits Janet to half a small cracker, which she then feels she must burn off, but the she allows herself one chocolate on the first day of every month and a little bit of ice cream; her face lights up as she discloses this to Louis. What many people cease to understand with the disease, is that sufferers of anorexia often are great lovers of food. Though it may be the cause of some of their greatest fear, it can also be the source of immense happiness. This not only makes the illness difficult for a non-sufferer to understand, but also seems somewhat contradictory. Through his interviews, Theroux effectively conveyed that anorexia is not a physical illness but truly is a mental one, and because of this, there is no definitive cause or typical candidate, it can prey on anyone.
“By banishing common misconceptions, to date, this has been one of television’s most truthful portrayal of a life lived with anorexia
“I am under no illusion I am attractive as I am now or if I lost weight, but I still want to lose weight. It’s not about being attractive”, says Jess. By banishing common misconceptions, to date, this has been one of television’s most truthful portrayal of a life lived with anorexia. Viewers are confronted with the harsh reality of the disease. There is no quick fix recovery method, and telling a sufferer to “just eat” is by no means helpful. Theroux uncovers the way that the eating disorder affects not only the patient but also their family and friends and explores the tremendous difficulty they face trying to support their loved ones. The need for control, stress, media pressure and emotional trauma can all provoke disordered eating behavior. Theroux chooses not to overly pry, instead, he offers a pillar of support for the women he talks to, empathy and understanding come above his journalistic curiosity in this installment to his ream of controversial documentaries.
A discussion long overdue, Talking to Anorexia is a documentary that is informative, devastating, complicated and though not without some flaws, it is above all, important.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the topics discussed in this program, Beat Eating Disorders charity’s helpline is 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for more information- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/