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Lisa A. Carpino
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Anna Maria College
Skinny Genes?: An Interdisciplinary Look at a Complex Behavioral Disorder

This case study introduces Megi, an active teenager who has recovered from anorexia nervosa.  The method of progressive disclosure is used to take students back in time as Megi recalls the physical and psychological aspects of her illness and the long path to recovery. The case was designed to be interdisciplinary as students grapple with the underlying causes of anorexia and particularly with the relative contributions of genetics vs. environment. The case conveys the complexity of anorexia and how societal perception of the disease and its cause has changed over time. The case has been used successfully in psychology and genetics courses with both majors and non-majors. The case could be readily used in biology courses and could be adapted for use in a nutrition or nursing course. Optional extensions to the case provide for more in depth reflection on the history of eating disorders and how society's perception of these complex illnesses has changed over time.