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stoneunhinged
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OK, let's talk about the other side of the coin.

This semester I have a student who is obviously waaaaaaaaaaay underweight. The most obvious (though perhaps not only) explanation is that she is anorexic.

Now, I have an aversion to ever giving anyone unsolicited advice on a personal basis. I tend to be passive and non-confrontational in almost everything.

But this has been bothering me all semester, because I can picture this girl ending up in the hospital--or worse--while virtually everyone around her sees she is unwell but hesitates to say anything.

She requested a consultation regarding her term paper, so she's going to be dropping by my office soon.

Should I say something? If so, what? And how? It all seems very prying and indelicate to me. And would saying anything even help?
TomKMagic
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I'm not a counselor or anything, but I wouldn't come right out and say, you have an eating problem, let's do something about it. If that's truly the case, then it was probably triggered by something. I'd just talk to the girl and ask general questions about her day or how she is doing. Eventually you can work into more in-depth questions or conversation to see if there is something that is bothering her. It could be other kids teasing, some problem at home, some kind of self image issues, etc...

Best of luck to you and her.
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mvmagic
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It most often is an issue with self-image, triggered by whatever reasons, etc. friends trying to lose weight, the image of women offered in media. Whatever the cause, the fact is the person feels he/she is too fat.

I wouldn't just confront her directly, as they are very very good at coming up with excuses, they evade, defences come up. I have on several occasion heard the explanation "I am a vegetarian" and they have insisted on that and its been left at that.

I would strongly recommend that instead of trying to deal with it yourself, talk to your school nurse (assuming you have one) about your concerns. Maybe you could ask her to talk to the nurse, though I doubt she would.

I am no authority when it comes to eating disorders, but being a nurse I have encountered quite a few at work.
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Magnus Eisengrim
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I assume you are concerned about her well being.

If she is concerned about her work in class you can ask her is she is feeling well. Then you have to just follow the conversation. It may be that you can refer her to the University's health care services. More likely not, but you shouldn't go where she won't lead you.

Good luck to you both.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
stoneunhinged
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Right. My plan right now is to have no plan, but take any opportunity which seems to really fit at the time it presents itself. If she were a long term student with whom I had any kind of relationship at all then I would say something. As it is I probably won't.

Still, the thread on fat people made me wonder what our responsibilities are when it comes to observing the unhealthy lifestyles of others.

I would never approach a total stranger. I wouldn't hesitate to approach an intimate friend or loved one. But in this case I feel unsure of myself.
lemonjug
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I think MVMagic's advice about talking to the school nurse is best. It's nice that you care, Stoneunhinged, so best of luck to you.
stoneunhinged
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Lemonjug, welcome to the Café! And a hearty welcome to this section, which we have nicknamed NOTS.

Unfortunately, I'm talking about a university student, so there is no school nurse. If this were a high school student I would talk to the parents, I think, but I'm not sure.

In this case we're talking about a young woman who is probably 22 or 23, so the whole thing takes on a different air about it.

I mean, to be honest, I wouldn't really want her to get the impression that I "size up" my female students. Which in her case isn't necessary; I'm sure that everyone she knows has noticed.

She's first year, however, which means at least two things: 1., she's under a lot of stress, as all first year students are, and 2., she may not have yet developed any deep friendships.

It's a dilemma, because anorexia is one of those things that people love to talk about on TV talkshows or the movie of the week, but something you seldom feel the need to confront someone about. I've been teaching 20 years now and this is the first time I've faced this dilemma.
Michael Baker
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I would imagine there are doctors and counsellors who deal with this very thing, and they may well have advice on handling any "intervention" process for eating disorders. Call and talk to them. Put your dilemma into the hands of experts.
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MagicSanta
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Shouldn't you congratulate her on her intelligence and dilligent parents then put together a magic show about it?
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2010-06-16 11:38, MagicSanta wrote:
Shouldn't you congratulate her on her intelligence and dilligent parents then put together a magic show about it?


Right. But political theory courses (like the one this student is in) lend themselves more to vent acts than, say, close up.

Too bad I'm not a ventriloquist. I'd have the doll do the hard part of educating her about diet, and the other students would give ME the laughs and recognition.
Rupert Bair
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Tell her she's too skinny to be a philosopher.
Tom Cutts
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I found your question to boil down into two answer options. What do I think you should do based on you vs what would I do based on me. For you, based on your previously stated ethic in the matter, if you don't butt out you are either changing your perspective on such matters or you are being hypocritical. But surely moronic, sarcastic remarks will lead you in the right direction.

What would you do if this student were instead morbidly obese?

In the US there is also the issue that any discussion of the nature you are considering might be construed as inappropriate. Not sure of the legal environment of such things in Germany.
MagicSanta
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Universities there don't have medical offices? Surprising.
Scott Cram
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This is one of those tough situations I'd hate to be in.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2010-06-16 13:26, Tom Cutts wrote:
What would you do if this student were instead morbidly obese?


Nothing. That's why the Fat fids thread got me to thinking about the subject. The whole semester I've been thinking I should say something, but my opinion in the Fat kids thread was that it's none of my business. Perhaps there is a contradiction. I need to think about that.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Are the likely consequences of non-intervention with an obese child relevantly similar to the likely consequences of non-intervention with an anorexic child?
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
landmark
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As you're dealing with an adult, not a high schooler (in which case it's your job to be nosy and butt in), it's more sticky in this situation. I would speak with a school counselor/healthcare employee and ask for advice soon. You've brought it up, so it must be bothering you.
Rupert Bair
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Give her the link to this page on a bit of paper. And tell her, "it's the right thing to do."
Juliegel
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Hey, I would not be involved much at all. You really do not know if there is a problem at all. I am still pretty young and happen to be almost 20 pounds underweight. When I was younger I used to be a chubby kid and weighed 150 but then I sprouted up to 6 foot and went to 130 almost instantly. Now it seems like no mater how much I eat I can not gain that weight back. My theory is that my metabolism suddenly decided to get off its *** and start working but I can not keep up. Most people thought I had some sort of eating disorder but I always ate more then they did.

So the point is that you never know what is going on and what you say can make things a lot worse. When people told me that they thought I had a disorder I felt very uncomfortable and considered a lot of crazy things (not death or anything). Consult with someone trained in this field please. From what I can tell you are not trained to handle this subject. You are asking a bunch of Magicians for advice on a subject that they also don't know. Not much good can come of this.


As always,
Dylan
stoneunhinged
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Right.

Well, as I said, my plan right now is to not say anything.

I simply don't have any relationship to her, which I think one needs to even start thinking about approaching someone.

But thanks for the advice, Dylan. I appreciate it.
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