Most people refer to anorexia nervosa as an eating disorder, but a Brigham Young University health sciences doctoral student says eating is only one symptom in the disorder that affects every other part of a person's being.
Tom Okrie believes that anorexics can conquer the illness through a multidimensional program - a program that looks at emotional, cognitive, social, interpersonal and value issues."Most programs are based on one cause, one cure, but many elements combine to create the problem," he said. "It's a crisis in wholeness."
To test his program, Okrie is seeking 50 anorexics - 18 to 30 years old - to volunteer for the 15-hour program, which will most likely last 21 days. He hopes to begin the program by the second week in May.
The program is supported by the BYU health sciences department and the Child and Family Psychology clinic run by BYU psychologist Lynn Scoresby.
"We cannot make the problem go away, but we can develop a program that will give them some strategies to work their way out of it and stay out," Okrie said.
His program, called Super-Analytic-Dimensionality (SAD), involves theory and practice, he said.
"Many anorexics believe they are gaining weight when they eat one meal, but that's not true. We are providing them with the ability to read for themselves what we are talking about."
The volunteers will receive reinforcement as they go through the program.
"Most are told what to do their whole life. We give them a choice. They are involved in the decision-making process," he said.
The program also builds a social network that will most likely result in behavioral contagion, Okrie said. "If they hear a success story, they will most likely figure, `Why not try it; it worked for her and she survived.'
"This is more of a program to teach them how to deal with it and tackle it. There is no threat. We provide them with ample information."
The philosophy behind the the multidimensional program is to teach participants to look deeply, ponder frequently and ask for more of everything - hugs, advice, comfort, care, food, freedom and insight, he said.
"Most victims are drawn into the physical dimension of anorexia. We get other conditions and enlarge upon them. If their self-concept goes up, anxiety goes down.
"We don't promise them the moon, but we tell them the program will help if they try to live with it, try to understand the problem and develop ways to get out of it. I don't like to see them hurting."
The program was adapted from a similar program Okrie set up in Troy, Mich., to work with teenagers and their health problems. Okrie is on sabbatical leave from the Troy School District to complete his doctorate at BYU.
Anyone interested in the program should call 377-2878, 378-4428 or stop by 230 Richards Building at BYU.