In 1994, Margaret Bruce, the mother of David Bruce, a toddler who wasn’t eating, caught an episode of 20/20 about Peggy Claude-Pierre, the supposedly visionary founder of an eating disorder clinic. Though her son was only two at the time, the Bruce family had already visited numerous doctors. David’s pediatrician initially diagnosed him with anorexia nervosa, but other healthcare professionals insisted that was impossible. They told Margaret that she was being over-protective, or imagining things, or—worst of all—that it was actually she who was sick, with Munchausen’s-by-Proxy, a rare disorder in which a caregiver makes a dependent ill to engender sympathy from others. Once, when the family visited a local emergency room because David was dehydrated, the staff tried to have her arrested. Another time, a highly regarded family therapist suggested that Margaret put out food at designated mealtimes and allow David to do what he chose. The experiment lasted two days, during which time he ate nothing. The episode of 20/20 began with narration: “Well, you are about to be part of an extraordinary experience. A journey into a bizarre world where young people, most of them girls, are bent on their own destruction, and one woman leads an inspiring… Read full this story
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