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Self-help Group Seeks to Support Harvard Anorexics

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The Massachusetts Anorexia Nervosa Aid will sponsor a self-help group for active and recovering anorexics at Harvard, Patricia R. Warner, head of the organization, said yesterday.

Warner said she decided to form a group at Harvard after receiving several calls from students who read about her in The Boston Globe this summer.

Recovered anorexics will lead the self-help groups during their weekly meetings at Harvard.

Anorexia "is a life threatening disease of self-starvation," Warner said. Its cure lies with the self-help groups, early detection, and medical and psychiatric care, she added.

The mother of a recovered anorexic, Warner is currently working on a book dealing with her contact with the disease.

"The 'Twiggy syndrome' and the fact that, for high school girls, there is so much pressure to look a certain way" contributes to a disproportionate number of female anorexics, Warner said.

"People who become anorexics are often those who are striving to please everyone, especially their parents," Warner said. She added that anorexics usually feel inadequate because of a slight weight problem before they begin self-starvation.

Warner said that a common misconception about anorexia is "that it is a rich girls' disease. I receive many calls from poor people who tell me that they can't afford adequate care," she added.

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