Psychiatrists want ‘binge eating’ as official mental disorder-millions of overweight Americans could be profitable target

The American Psychiatric Association is considering including ‘binge eating’ in its diagnostic manual, but to many skeptics, the recognition of binge eating as a psychiatric disorder does nothing but absolve weak-willed people of their responsibility to rein in a dangerous habit. And some suspect that the diagnosis is a sneaky way to sweep an entire nation of over-eaters under psychiatry’s umbrella — and possibly into the marketplace for new drugs.

Melissa Healy
Los Angeles Times
November 23, 2009

Rina Silverman’s refrigerator is almost always empty. She keeps it that way to avert episodes of frantic food consumption, often at night after a full meal, in which she tastes nothing and feels nothing but can polish off a party-sized bag of chips or a container of ice cream, maybe a whole box of cereal. The food she’s eating at these moments hardly matters.

In short order, the nothing that Silverman feels and tastes will give way to nauseating fullness, and a bitter backwash of guilt, shame and self-reproach.

The fullness, in time, passes. But the corrosive shame and self-reproach are always there.

Silverman, a 43-year-old executive assistant from Sherman Oaks, is one of the 145 million Americans who are overweight or obese. But the frenzies of consumption put her in a far smaller category of Americans, not all of whom are even overweight.

Silverman is a binge eater, one who is slowly inching her way toward recovery. She and as many as 1 in 30 Americans — roughly 7.3 million adults — are at the center of a psychiatric debate over whether and how to recognize binge eating as a mental disorder.

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