Grußworte an die ÖGES

Arthur Crisp (+2006): "Good wishes to the Austrian Society on eating disorders (ASED)"

Eating disorders" can be amongst the most severe of human afflictions. They are often stigmatisingly trivialised by the public and also, sadly, by some health care professionals. Too often sufferers are then left without any understanding or help. Their unassuaged panic and ever lower self esteem then isolate them totally. It is a pleasure, therefore, to be invited to contribute a message to the ASED at this time of its foundation. Its excellent mission statement identifies its aims and priorities with attention to care, knowledge and attempts at prevention. The multidisciplinary nature of the association is appropriately emphasized.  

ASED´s task cannot be overestimated. It is bound to experience apathy and resistance on several fronts. At the same time, the breadth of its professional base offers the best prospect of effectiveness.  

Succeeding in the attempt to engage with the anorectic requires great clinical skills rooted in an understanding of the profound egosyntonicity of the disorder. Subsequent help requires the capacity to facilitate personal growth within a professional framework. Simplistic interventions are not useful. Engaging helpfully with a bulimic sufferer requires a quite different set of skills, blending powerful control with freedom in a way that also challenges one´s own defences and philosophy to the limit. Multidisciplinary input to this breadth of behavioural and psychodynamic skills can be most productive.  

There is also no range of disorders that invites such a broad perspective for research. Evolutionary biologists could usefully mingle with cultural anthropologists and others alongside the panoply of health care professionals in such endeavours.

Primary prevention is a bold intention and educational systems in our Western world may be ripe for absorbing the challenge. Maximising the personal fulfilment of individuals within social constraints is the arena; politicians and international corporations will need to be taken on board or else challenged to take the matter seriously and not exploit the underlying vulnerabilities of those prone to these eating disorders. My very best wishes for your success in such tasks.

April 2001

Arthur Crisp
MD, DSc, FRCP, FRCPsych (Hon)
Past Head of the Eatings Disorders Service at St George´s Hospital, London
Emeritus Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of London
Past Dean, University of London
Past Chairman, Advisory Committee of the Medical Training of Doctors, European Community

James E. Mitchell: "Addresss to the Austrian Society on eating disorders (ASED)"

It was a great pleasure to be asked to write a brief column for the first issue of the Austrian Society on Eating Disorders Newsletter. The aims of the Society, as outlined in the mission statement, seem broad and well chosen, and I'd like to highlight a few points as to what an organization like the Austrian Society on Eating Disorders (ASED) can mean to professionals, their patients, and society at large.

In my opinion, the development of such organizations is crucial to our field. First, eating disorders patients generally require a multiplicity of interventions from professionals who represent a variety of disciplines. These are disciplines that tend not to interact in other contexts, and providing a forum wherein these professionals can share information, communicate their concerns and promote new initiatives is really critical for our field.

A second obvious function of such an organization is to share new findings - to disseminate the results of the most recent research studies. This can be done through the newsletter itself or through the development of continuing education activities. The field of eating disorders is evolving rapidly and the means to disseminate new information is of great importance to us all.

Last, such organizations can provide a very useful means for breaking down the barriers, not only between disciplines, but between individuals as well. Many healthcare providers tend to work in relative isolation. This is particularly true of psychotherapists and psychiatrists. Working with patients with eating disorders can be challenging and draining, and it is important to provide venues where individuals can offer support and encouragement to each other in their professional careers.

In summary, congratulations to the founders of the Austrian Society on Eating Disorders! The initial steering committee is composed of leaders in the field of Eating Disorders, all internationally recognized for their work, who will provide the expertise and enthusiasm to move you forward. Your mission statement and aims look very well formulated. Clearly there is much to do and much to be accomplished. I wish you well on your journey.

March 2021

James E. Mitchell, M.D.
President, Academy for Eating Disorders, USA
Past-President, Eating Disorders Research Society, USA

Gerald Russell (1928-2018): "Message of good wishes to the Austrian Society on Eating Disorders (ASED)"

Until the last thirty years, the study and treatment of eating disorders have developed with extreme slowness. Anorexia nervosa was classified as a distinct clinical entity only in the 1970´s although it had already been clearly described in the 1870´s. Bulimia nervosa was only recognised in 1979. Facilities for the treatment of these patients have also developed very slowly. Knowledge about the causation of eating disorders is still rudimentary. For these reasons it is important to establish societies that foster collaboration between professionals from all disciplines at national and international levels. The Austrian Society on Eating Disorders (ASED) founded in October 2000 is such a society. Its members and officers deserve full congratulations for establishing their Society and mapping out its functions in a far-sighted mission statement.

The principal aims of the ASED are to facilitate the detection and treatment of eating disorders, and furthermore encourage research into new treatments and ways of delivering these treatments.
The mission statement also sets out specific aims for the training and education of relevant professional disciplines, at the same time establishing a network of professionals so as to sustain collaboration between them. Probably most ambitious is the aim of preventing eating disorders through health-inducing activities, including the development of positive self-esteem and healthy
self-image, in view of the powerful modern cult for thinness sustained by the fashion and dieting industries.

By establishing the ASED Austria is in the forefront of nations that have set up societies with similar aims. Only a few countries have succeeded in setting up a similar society with a multidisciplinary membership and the broad goals of professional education and the establishment of nation-wide therapeutic services. One of the few established facts regarding the causation of eating disorders is their high dependence on socio-cultural factors which affect the incidence and mould the expression of these illnesses in different ways in various countries.

Accordingly international co-operation through such bodies as the World Health Organisation and other scientific meetings is extremely important. The example of the Austrian Society on Eating Disorders should now be followed in those parts of the world where these illnesses are prevalent. The ASED will elicit warm support from colleagues sharing the same clinical and scientific interests.

April 2001

Professor G. Russell MD, FRCP, FRCPEd., FRCPsych (Hon)
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London
Former Chairman of the Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, U.K.
Former Chairman of the WHO Special Division on Eating Disorders