Midweek Rant: Rosewood Ranch 4

An advocate friend drew my attention to a particularly awful website today. It’s riled me up something rotten.

“Love addiction and eating disorders both often start with dysfunctional roles in the family of origin.”

You have got to be shitting me. This is the first line in Rosewood Ranch Santa Monica’s article on Love, Relationships and Eating Disorders. I don’t even know where to start with pulling apart the errors in that opening sentence, and it is only 16 words long! How is it even possible to load so much crap into one short sentance?

  • Love addition and eating disorders listed as if they go together like fish and chips.
  • “Dysfunctional roles?” Whose? The sufferers? The parents? The siblings? The family pet?
  • “Family of origin?” What does this even mean? If I’m adopted my love addiction/eating disorder is my biological mothers fault for giving me up? Or is it pointing to nurture rather than nature? Sounds like they are making this shit up as they go along to me.

Rosewood Ranch is an eating disorder treatment center, and is a prime example of everything that is wrong with eating disorder treatment right now. I’m not even kidding, it’s right here. 

Why is this such a problem? Why does it matter?

Mostly this matters because it is bullshit and we know better. We have the research that shows that these illnesses are genetic in base and are not caused by bad parenting. Treatment centers such as Rosewood Ranch are displaying their ignorance when they publish crap like this online. Ignorance in the medical field can kill—and because the internet exists there really is no excuse for it.

An example to my point here:

So here’s a scenario. I’m a Mum, and I suspect my kid has an eating disorder. I don’t know much about eating disorders so I do what any intelligent person does when they don’t know something: I Google it.

Because places like Rosewood obviously spend more money on marketing than they do on research and education, there is a high chance that they are throwing a lot of cash into Adwords and digital marketing. If their center comes up top of the search results when I Google search “eating disorder treatment,” I’m probably going to click on it. Then, because I don’t know any better, I might believe what their site tells me. I might then send my child to have treatment there—probably at a high cost.

Chances are that I might do all those things and my kid will come out of that treatment program no better at all because Rosewood are not up to date with the most recent scientific research around eating disorders and they don’t know how to treat them. That’s really sad.

But wait. There’s more: the longer an eating disorder is left untreated, the more ingrained it becomes. Not only has sending my child to that shitty Rosewood treatment center cost me a wad of cash, it has allowed his or her eating disorder to have the time to take root. This means that the disease is going to be even harder to treat and could have really dire long term consequences.

Unfortunately this is a very true story for a lot of parents. I know plenty of people who have sent a child to an ED clinic and have spent a lot of money to do so, only to have the child return worse off.

Why is this legal?

That is a really good question.

This is a bit like someone setting up a cancer treatment center and stating the following on the home page:

Parkinson’s Disease and cancer both often start with dysfunctional roles in the family of origin. We treat cancer by addressing deep-rooted family troubles that are the reason that the patient giving themselves cancer.

Would that fly? No. And it shouldn’t fly for Anorexia treatment either.

Want to help put a stop to it?

If you are a sufferer, ex-sufferer, or a caregiver for someone who has an eating disorder and you help change the way that treatment centers like this work join us in the first World Eating Disorder Awareness Day is on June 2nd.


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About Tabitha Farrar

I work as Head of Marketing for a software startup in Boulder. As a recovered Anorexia sufferer, I advocate for proper understanding of eating disorders in my spare time. On that note, I wrote a book about my own journey into eating again called Love Fat.

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4 thoughts on “Midweek Rant: Rosewood Ranch

  • Laney

    Thanks for this, Tabitha. The other reason I think it matters is that these vague accusations towards families and sufferers cloud the picture when it comes to insurance coverage and research dollars. Why should insurers help a dysfunctional family? Why spend money on learning more about something that can be cured by better parenting? Perpetuating this perception also hurts kids that come from “functional” families. If the family appears normal then eating disorders are temporarily ruled out while time and energy is wasted on endless testing and the child continues to deteriorate. Articles like this drag down the field and hurt our children. It’s important to keep calling out their sources.

    • Tabitha Farrar Post author

      Yes Laney! Totally agree.

      I was from a very lovely and functional family and I felt that many of my GPs simply wrote me off after they learned that I had no history of trauma of family issues. That’s the damage on the individual level.

      Then, on the societal level, you are quite right; why should insurance companies pay out to help a symptom of a “dysfunctional” family? Why should they pay for “bad parenting.”

      It makes my blood boil because of the potential for damage that such fictitious and ungrounded claims can do.

  • Brit

    Tabitha, have you read any of the articles on residential centers on the “A disordered world” website? There’s an entire series called “The Eating Disorders “Residential Treatment Industrial Complex”: Harm or Help?”. Worth the read and all that you advocate for.