This film is more of a glimpse into a flawed recovery program than it is on eating disorders themselves. I was completely shocked at the way these women and girls were treated. I am very curious as to what the recovery rate of Renfrew Center is. Having personal experience with my own eating disorders, the tactics I saw used by some staff members are just largely ineffective. These methods are no way to get through to anyone or to help them gain lasting change. My heart goes out to these girls and women who come into the facility with various states of instability to begin with, then being subjected to more by the way they are treated, basically like prisoners. From the time they walk in they are searched and later there is a level of interrogation that I find quite disturbing. The staff are well meaning people but may really want to rethink their strategy. It is my opinion that this facility may be causing further psychological damage and could be considered abusive. At one point a patient named Polly is called "a bad seed" during a staff meeting. The staff then kicked her out thinking it would benefit the other patients. Wow! I was left feeling at a loss for Polly the other girls... Absolutely sad.
There is intricate strategy and layers of reasoning behind an eating disorder. In addition, a specific set of beliefs and patterns of behavior to be undone and redirected. Above all, treating people with respect and dignity is paramount in their recovery. True rehabilitation happens a person has been empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves. A person is much less likely to achieve empowerment with an authoritarian method of treatment. As demonstrated in the film, the treatment program pits people against each other creating unhealthy alliances and power struggles. I have seen that kindness, understanding, as well as respect are a few of the most effective tools in working to rehabilitate people.
“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.”
— Henry Miller
In loving memory of Polly, who passed away in 2008