Children as young as six can suffer from an eating disorder. So says a new study from Great Ormond Street Hospital. These kids, it seems, can understand the need to be thin but decreed too young to know criminal responsibility or other concepts.
How can this be? What turns a child so young into a receptive vessel for eating disorders? Perhaps we must turn to the media and celebrity culture for an answer.
The modern media is based on symbols. A symbol contains no detailed understanding as would be required for understanding criminal responsibility. Rather, a symbol of this sort – a stick-thin celebrity for instance – registers at the most simplistic level of human understanding.
So simplistic, in fact, that a child as young as six could easily take it in. So perhaps eating disorders in our children are due to a wider, social form of media disorder.
© Anthony North, April 2007
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