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Superintendent Writes

Sunday, 27th June, 2004

Graeme Cole, Manager of Wesley Communications Services, recently wrote that “the acknowledgement from Daniel Johns, of the pop group, Silverchair, that he suffered from severe anorexia nervosa raises important issues about the illness.” Aired on the ABC Television’s Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, Johns described how he stopped eating because everything felt so out of control.

Chris Thornton, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Peter Beumont Eating Disorder Service, run by Wesley Mission, Sydney, from a base in Wesley Hospital, said that Daniel Johns offered hope for the hundreds of people suffering from anorexia nervosa. According to The Sun Herald, Johns considered suicide. “More patients with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa commit suicide than patients with a diagnosis of depression,” Mr. Thornton said. “This shows the horrific reality of suffering from anorexia, it’s so bad that you want to kill yourself. This stands in stark contrast to constant media images of the illness. The illness is the third most common chronic illness effecting adolescent girls today, behind only obesity and asthma.”

John’s interview shows that recovery is possible. “The depth of self hatred and hopelessness that people feel when they experience anorexia nervosa often leads them and their families to feel that there is no escape from the illness,” said Mr. Thornton who has treated anorexia nervosa for the last 15 years. “I hope that the story of people like Daniel Johns will encourage people in recovery.” Chris Thornton is a Clinical Psychologist with over 15 years experience in treatment of the eating disorders. He is a senior member of the Peter Beumont Eating Disorder Service, which is recognized internationally as a leader in the treatment of patients with Eating Disorders. The Centre sees several hundred clients each year.

Every time I visit our hospital, and see the ultra thin young people on our program, I thank God we are saving these lives.

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