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Sarah Brotsky, Psy D, a psychologist in private practice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, spent two months participating in these online communities for a research project published in 2007.“In conversations I had with different members, they seemed to need frequent reassurance and validation, and it appeared that their offline relationships often weren’t very strong,” she says.
It wasn't until a few months later, however, that Jane shares that it wasn't just her boyfriend's texts that kept her glued to her cell.In part this may reflect a desire to evade legal liability or adverse action by website hosting companies, says Borzekowski.Earlier in the decade, under pressure from health professionals, Yahoo and MSN shut down many pro-ana/mia sites, some of which later reappeared with new names and less one-sided content.She's equally obsessed with the dozens of calorie-conscious apps she has stored on it.One day she tells me she's just eaten an impromptu bite of hummus on pita bread.That sense of social validation can derive from the content too, Brotsky adds.
Nowadays her patients who struggle with eating disorders often come to her having obviously picked up online pro-ana/mia material, such as the (“Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty”…).
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Three months after I started therapy with a new patient—let's call her Jane—I finally asked her about her obsessive interest in her cell phone.
“But we as public health researchers can clarify the threat they pose,” she says.
Reliable evidence can be useful for those who want to reach out more effectively to people who are suffering from these disorders, she says. Even in the short time since Borzekowski and her colleagues finished gathering data for this study, more and more havens for ana/mia communities have sprung up online, for example on Facebook, My Space and other social networking sites.
Nearly all (91 percent) of the 180 sites they found were easily accessible to casual browsers, and most (84 percent) presented pro-ana content, while about two-thirds presented pro-mia content.