On The Fix, a site he co-founded, Joe Schrank wrote a piece called “Chris Christie, The Addict?” Based on the question mark in the title you might assume that this is a piece wondering if Chris Christie has some kind of addiction – I know I did. It’s not. This piece is highly problematic in a number of ways, let’s look at some of them: (thanks to reader Elizabeth for letting me know about this!)
Lets start with the obvious: His apparent-to-the-naked eye eating disorder.
The only thing apparent to the naked eye is Governor Christie’s body size. Mr. Schrank bills himself as an “addiction specialist” In further research he seems to have studied clinical social work and done all of his work in alcohol and substance abuse. Maybe he’s just out of his depth, but anyone who studied clinical social work and bills himself as an “addiction specialist” should know better than to simply make assumptions about people based on how they look.
In 2013, Dr. Connie Mariano commented that Christie was vulnerable to stroke, heart attack or diabetes and that his health was a legitimate voter concern should he actually make a 2016 run at the White House. What did Christie do in response? He lashed out at the good doctor, saying, “She should shut up!”
Governor Christie’s response to Dr. Mariano was because she was doing the same thing that Mr. Schrank is doing here – acting like a psychic instead of a healthcare professional. Dr. Mariano made multiple assumptions about Governor Christie’s health from across the country, she’d never been in the same room with him let alone the examined him. As we well know, studies of health and weight that control for behavior find that behavior, not body size, is the best predictor of health. Now Mr. Schrank has decided to do the same thing with Governor Christie’s mental heath that Dr. Mariano did with his physical health. I hope Governor Christie’s response to him is the same as it was to Dr. Mariano.
Chris Christie suffers from an eating disorder.
So Mr. Schrank IS a psychic! Perhaps he’ll comment here and give me tomorrow’s lottery numbers. His evidence is entirely based on Chris Christie’s weight. He has absolutely no knowledge of the Governor’s behaviors or thought patterns. Eating disorders are complicated and varied and there are specific diagnostic criteria. In case you’re wondering, a cursory glance at someone’s body is not the diagnostic criteria for any eating disorder.
With Christie, we’re at the metaphorical moment when he can no longer deny that the drug test has shown opiates in his system.
Or maybe he just ate a poppy seed muffin. What the hell? The idea that Gov. Christie can’t deny having an eating disorder because he is fat is the same thing as having a positive drug test (because those are never wrong *sarcasm*…) is beyond problematic. As a clinical social worker and an addiction specialist, Mr. Schrank should know better than this.
Many people who suffer from addiction have…
Addicts also like to…
like an alcoholic…
The concept of food addiction is a very controversial one, not least because – unlike drugs or alcohol – everyone would die without food. Food addiction is not recognized by the DSM V and even if it was, it could not be diagnosed based on body size. You simply can’t diagnose addiction or mental illness based on how someone looks. In the many, many, comparisons of alcoholics and Chris Christie it’s important to realize that Mr. Schrank is actually comparing people’s whose behaviors meet the diagnostic criteria for substance abuse to a man who is simply fat.
I think Mr. Schrank is out of his depth here, prattling on about things that he doesn’t understand The problem is that the discourse that all fat people have eating disorders is damaging, not just to people who are diagnosed with an easting disorder based on how they look and don’t have one, but to people who have eating disorders but have trouble being properly diagnosed – for example fat people with Anorexia and thin people with Binge Eating Disorder. There are many issues with eating disorder diagnosis and treatment in this country (a topic for another blog post perhaps) and I think it would be dandy if people who are clinical social workers, and therefore should know better, didn’t make things worse through articles like this.
I’m not a fan of Governor Christie, but I want discussions about campaigns and government to be about policy, not prejudice.
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