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My friend is absolutely skeletal but sees herself as an elephant. Is there a name for this condition? What can be done to help her?

Kathleen Wolfe Henne

Camp Hill Pennsylvania

Yes, there actually is a label for this condition. It's "distorted body image," according to Cleveland Clinic eating disorders specialist Ellen Rome, M.D., M.P.H. Studies show that the very process of starving oneself causes changes in the brain that can lead to the inability to see oneself objectively. Women suffering from anorexia, for example, tend to draw their silhouettes or estimate their hip width disproportionately larger than they actually are. This is not a coy way of denying their condition; when confronted with the truth, they will firmly deny their true size. Altered perceptions of body image are predictable and painful-but they are often reversible, says Rome. For help, turn first to a medical doctor who is well-versed in eating disorders. Contact the National Eating Disorders Association (, 800-931-2237) for local specialists.

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Title Annotation:Your Health: MEDICAL MAILBOX; distorted body image
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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