For those of you who responded so kindly and with such interest to the post about eating disorders, this update is an effort to answer the question about what you could/should do if someone comes to you for support. I'm sorry, it was stupid/unhelpful to publish a list of 'don't's without suggesting any 'do's. As you know, the blog will come to an end on Sunday but you can always email me regarding this issue if there's ever anyway that I can do anything to help. If you can, you should try and guide the focus away from weight/food and get them talking about what was going on when they started cutting down their intake. What were the feelings and circumstances that led to self-denial; why did they feel judged, why did they feel inadequate, what happened to make them feel like they didn't have any control? A lot of them will immediately cite appearance related issues but, if you can, try to steer away from these and dig deeper - the social pressure to be thin undeniably, (and unforgivably!), exacerbates eating disorders ten thousand fold - but the vulnerabilities that make a person particularly sensitive to appearance related judgements don't start with appearance, they end with it. If they will talk to you, then don't offer them platitudes - they can be very clever people, thinking highly complex thoughts about the way the world works, (this is not always true but it's better to start here and adapt your approach than it is to trivialise the depth of their thinking and have them shut you out). Coming to the conclusion that you don't have much control is not illogical, it's just hard on a person if, for some reason, they have had to face it before they were ready. That 'life is NOT fair' is a more manageable concept if it dawns on a person incrementally over time – but, if someone has been unexpectedly or abruptly exposed to extreme feelings of powerlessness, especially a sensitive person who may have thought that by following certain rules they could guarantee certain outcomes, then being overwhelmed is a fairly understandable response. If you can, try and help them to explore and make peace with this new, out of control world - this world where you can influence other people's thoughts and deeds but you can't MAKE them feel or do anything, this world where, no matter what you do or how hard you try, there are certain things that all the willpower in the world will never change. From here you can start to help them explore whether there are any possible benefits to living in a world where control is an illusion. A person who is trying to be perfect by following rules is under a tremendous amount of personal pressure - if you can open up their mind to asking whether or not, since doing X doesn't always guarantee Y anyway, perfection might not be a mugs' game, approval might not be a matter of perspective and being motivated by your own wants and needs, rather than a desire to please others, is not just acceptable but probably both rational and enlightened – then you may succeed in edging them in the direction of hope; if you can help them start to see 'a world without control' as 'a world without the pressure to be perfect' then, in time, this may develop into a lifeline. You should also try to find out what they are good at that is unrelated to food and exercise - in an ideal world it shouldn't be something academic because academia has competitive connotations and the last thing they need is more comparisons - whether it's writing, painting, playing an instrument, craft projects, photography, caring for animals, making people laugh, being a good listener, being a good organiser, creating fun activities for children etc. - and find a forum where they can do this thing and receive affirmation for being good at it. They need to be praised for things that they see as 'innate' - if they only receive praise for being good at things which are competitive, like good grades, career promotions, success at sporting events etc. this will reinforce the idea that their value lies in their ability to perform rather than simply in the very fact of their being.