Business and Management
Submitted By trotmanj
As fifteen-year-old Perry shuffled into my office, with his parents trailing cautiously behind, he glanced at me with a strained neutral expression that I'd found usually masked either great anger or great distress; in Perry's case it was both. Although anorexia is a disorder most often associated with girls, Perry was the third in a line of anorexic boys I had recently seen. When he came to see me, Perry's weight had dropped to within ten pounds of the threshold requiring forced hospitalization, yet he denied there was any problem.
"He just won't eat," his mother began. Then, turning to Perry as if to show me the routine they'd been enacting, she asked with tears in her eyes, "Perry, why can't you at least have a simple dinner with us?" Perry refused to eat with his family, always claiming he wasn't hungry at the time and that he preferred to eat later in his room. Except that that rarely happened. New menus, gentle encouragement, veiled threats, nagging, and outright bribes had all been tried, to no avail. Why would an otherwise healthy fifteen-year-old boy be starving himself? The question hung urgently in the air as we all talked.
Let's be clear from the outset: Perry was a smart, good kid: shy, unassuming, and generally unlikely to cause trouble. He was getting straight A's in a challenging and competitive public school honors curriculum that spring. And he later told me that he hadn't gotten a B on his report card since fourth grade. In some ways he was every parent's dream child.
But beneath his academic success, Perry faced a world of troubles, and while he took awhile to get to know, eventually the problems came pouring out. The problems weren't what I'd expected, though. Perry wasn't abused, he didn't do drugs, and his family wasn't driven by conflict. Rather, at first glance, his problems would seem more like typical adolescent complaints. And they…...