Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

ASE-D: Alt.Support.Eating-Disord. A Pilot Study of an Internet Self-Help Group

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

ASE-D: Alt.Support.Eating-Disord. A Pilot Study of an Internet Self-Help Group

Article excerpt

ASE-D ( is a self-help newsgroup for people who are either struggling with an eating disorder themselves, or affected indirectly by someone who is. A pilot study examines ASE-D's unique cyber-setting and surveys a small sample of participants from this service to question how they perceive their involvement with the self-help group. Results suggests the need for future research to assess the impact of web-based support interventions on individuals with eating disorders and to suggest ways to best serve the needs of those who may be more likely to use online services for self-help reasons.

Le groupe de nouvelles ASE-D ( offre du soutien aux personnes luttant elles-memes contre des troubles alimentaires, ou bien touchees par quelqu'un d'autre qui en est atteint. Une etude-pilote examine runique milieu cyber de ASE-D et enquete sur un petit echantillon de participant-e-s a ce service afin de determiner comment elles et ils percoivent leur participation au groupe d'efforts personnels. Les resultats indiquent qu'il sera necessaire d'effectuer des recherches supplementaires sur des personnes souffrant de troubles alimentaires et de suggerer des approches qui reponderont le mieux possible aux besoins de ceux et celles qui risquent d'employer les services d'efforts personnels disponibles en ligne.


Writing tends to be more evocative if the subject matter is meaningful to its author. This is particularly true in the following investigation. as a scholar, I have devoted my academic career to the study of "eating disorders" -- the problematic relationships that many women have with food, physical activity, and their appearance. As an educator, I have designed and maintained an informational website on the subject of eating disorders and have presented numerous seminars and workshops to increase public efforts at awareness and prevention of weight and body image problems. as a family member, I have witnessed how an un-intervened eating disorder can wear through the staunch mettle of the human spirit just as hunger can ultimately wear through the fragile tissues of the body. As someone who has watched a loved one die from the compounded effects of diabetes and eating disorders, I sympathize with those who view death as a form of deliverance from the struggles of life. But more importantly, as someone who acknowledges that it is entirely possible to change the narrow ideals of beauty and social acceptance in our airbrushed, consumer-driven, culture, I believe that empathy can be one of the most powerful avenues to help heal this sort of problem. Knowing that one is not isolated in this experience and that there are others with whom one can identify and relate is a powerful means of support and encouragement for starting the process of "recovery." Computer-mediated communication offers new opportunities for women to communicate with one another, to share their diverse knowledge and experiences, to form new discourses and new "virtual" communities, and to organize themselves collectively to effect social and political change.

The Site of Investigation: ASE-D (

Those who engage in sociocultural research may find the Web to be an interesting site for studying how people communicate and how they interpret, invent and display themselves online. Since the advent of the Internet, there have been a proliferation of weight-conscious and body-centric websites offering everything from products and information to personal advice on weight-gain and weight-loss. For instance, those wanting to "bulk up," "tone up" and gain weight can order protein powders and caloric supplements, while getting the latest workout tips by searching the Web for body-building sites. Similarly, those wanting to "slim down" and lose weight can surf the Web for diet pages and commercial weight-loss sites. For those looking to a more drastic solution of "weight-control," the Internet offers information and referral sites on surgeons who will perform such procedures as gastro-intestinal bypass surgery, which involves snipping the stomach to a fraction of its size so that less food can be consumed. …

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