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December 9, 1974

Perils of Behavior Modification in Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Medical Center, Houston.

JAMA. 1974;230(10):1419-1422. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240100037024

In recent years, overly optimistic claims have been made for the efficacy of behavior modification in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. This claim rests on the mistaken assumption that enforced correction of the emaciation, the most prominent symptom, represents meaningful treatment of this serious and complex condition. Results have been published without the benefit of follow-up studies.

In this series of patients, this method led to deterioration. In spite of bringing about a transient weight increase, behavior modification must be looked upon as potentially damaging in anorexia nervosa.

(JAMA 230:1419-1422, 1974)