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China Struggles to Come to Grips with Anorexia

Posted: 09/2/2014 10:52 am

Suzhou anorexia nervosaAnorexia nervosa is a well-known eating disorder around most of the world, but it’s still relatively new in China, which was impoverished for decades prior to the reform and opening period that began in 1978.

The Mayo Clinic describes it as a disease that results in people starving themselves as an unhealthy way to deal with emotional problems. For these people, being thin is the only thing that gives them self-esteem.

There are many causes of anorexia, ranging from psychological, biological, and sociological; some sufferers are even influenced by images in the media. But the perception of anorexia in China is still evolving as medical practitioners come to terms with it. Here, the disease is still viewed as something you “catch” if you diet too much.

Chinese media has recently profiled a 24 year-old Suzhou woman who has apparently been suffering from a “mysterious ailment” that has caused her to continually lose weight for six years.

Suzhou anorexia nervosa

Xiaoxiao (a pseudonym) was 169 cm (5’6″) tall and weighed 55 kg (121 lbs) when she was a second-year high school student in 2007. Today, she weighs a mere 39 kg (88 lbs).

The problem started in 2008 when Xiaoxiao returned to high school after taking a year off to recover from an operation to correct her spine. Discovering that many of her classmates were dieting, Xiaoxiao followed the trend of eating less as a way to become thinner. Xiaoxiao only ate one mouthful of food at dinner, and skip lunch all together.

By 2009, Xiaoxiao had dropped to 50 kg (110 lbs). She looked unhealthy, but her parents didn’t think much of it. When Xiaoxiao complained of being constipated, a doctor prescribed her a laxative that made things worse by giving her diarrhea. At this time, Xiaoxiao stopped having her period.

Xiaoxiao was later taken to a hospital where she received treatment from the Traditional Chinese Medicine department. She was prescribed nourishing medicine to increase her health, but this proved to be ineffectual.

This past April, Xiaoxiao was taken to a Wuxi hospital where she was diagnosed as not receiving enough nourishment and required drug supplements. This treatment was very effective at first: after two months, Xiaoxiao’s weight increased from 40 kg (88 lbs) to 44 kg (97 lbs). However, after three months, her intestines were found to be massively swollen as a result.

In July, Xiaoxiao was taken to Huashan hospital in Shanghai where she was given anti-allergy medication that proved to be very effective. Xiaoxiao got her appetite back, but the situation reversed itself after a week.

At no time was Xiaoxiao given any psychological counselling or even diagnosed with anorexia. Xiaoxiao’s parents have now stopped giving her any nutritional supplements, including expensive foreign imports. Instead, Xiaoxiao’s father, Mr Song, is desperately asking anyone for their help to solve his daughter’s ailment.

Suzhou anorexia nervosa

He has struggled to cope with his daughter’s problems, and confessed he often cries due to the unbearable pain of seeing his daughter suffering. He is at a loss of what to do to help her.

Xiaoxiao, though, does have some advice for others considering dieting:

Girls: be sure not to blindly follow trends just to torment yourself. I feel that being a bit pudgy is better in the end.

Despite the dire situation, Xiaoxiao has so far not received any emotional or psychological treatment to deal with her condition.

Photos: China News, Guangzhou Daily



Bye ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, China Is Starting Something Much More Fun

Posted: 08/27/2014 6:45 pm

strip challenge ShenzhenThe ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is continuing to fill up everyone’s Facebook feeds these days, but some people in China have already had enough.

A group of young men and women from a Shenzhen-based financial company stripped down to their underwear and bathing suits as a way to protest the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, something they consider to be a waste of resources.strip challenge Shenzhen

Photographed at the company’s headquarters on August 26, the group is seen with a sign behind them:

Partake in the strip challenge, boycott the ice bucket challenge; conserving and being thrifty is the right way to show your love

ALS, the rare disease known in Chinese as the “gradually getting still syndrome”, is not mentioned in this protest.

While these people are technically still wearing clothes, they are technically as naked as Chinese decorum will allow them to be. We’ll just have to wait to see if the “strip challenge” catches on as the best new way to raise donations and awareness for ALS.

strip challenge Shenzhenstrip challenge Shenzhenstrip challenge Shenzhen

Photos: China News Via YCWB


Random Knife Attack In Downtown Guangzhou Sends Eight People to Hospital

Posted: 08/22/2014 12:13 pm

tianhe district guangzhou knife attackA knife attack in Guangzhou on Thursday evening sent as many as eight people to hospital, reports Reuters.

A man attacked several people on the street with a knife before being subdued by police shortly after 7pm near Kemulang West Road in Tianhe District at the intersection of Lanyuan Street and Lanyuan New Street.

Reports listing the number of injured victims have varied, with reporting six injured, Reuters reporting seven and iFeng reporting eight.

The injured were sent to Guangzhou Armed Police Hospital for medical treatment. None of their injuries are said to be life-threatening. The ages of the victims range from 19 to 55. The majority of the injuries were either head or hand injuries.

tianhe district guangzhou knife attack

The suspect is said to be a 32 year-old man from Hunan named Fan. Victims say he began slashing people without saying anything or without any expression on his face. A motive isn’t known yet. Fan is in hospital now with injuries to his head.

Although the investigation by police is still in progress, it has been revealed to the media that a history of mental illness or inebriation may have been a factor.

tianhe district guangzhou knife attack


Photos: hc360


Chongqing Doctor Claims Child Abuse Can Cure Children of Autism

Posted: 07/17/2014 10:24 am

autism therapy chongqing he xiaoyan hate therapy autistic children cureMental health in China is mostly a taboo topic, one that must be hidden rather than addressed publicly. And yet, a Chongqing doctor has attracted controversy not just because of her unorthodox methods of treating mental illness, but because she seems to be getting results.

The prevailing view is that autism is incurable, but a 36 year-old Sichuan native named He Xiaoyan claims she can do it, reports the Chongqing Commercial Report.

He operates the Leyi Amalgamated Kindergarten in Geleshan County. Throughout the past ten years, the school has taken in 960 children, some of which are autistic. He says she has “cured” ten of them.

He uses forceful and violent methods to treat these children using what she calls “hate therapy”. She uses a simple idiom to describe the treatment: ”If violence is used by the child, then violence will be returned on the child.”

As difficult as this is for parents to accept in the beginning, they usually come around to it. Here are a few cases of autistic children and the treatment they received:

  1. Four year-old Xiaoxiao was prone to biting, both herself and other people including students and teachers. To remedy this, teachers first tried slapping Xiaoxiao’s hand. When that didn’t work, He purposely provoked Xiaoxiao in order to incite her to bite. When Xiaoxiao bit someone, she was bit herself, sometimes even by He. Xiaoxiao was told, “Whether you bite yourself or others, it will hurt.” Half a year later, Xiaoxiao stopped biting people.
  2. Five year-old Tongtong was prone to falling on the floor whenever he was angry, thereby hitting his head and causing it to bleed. To treat Tongtong, He wrapped up Tongtong’s head in protective material and allowed him to repeatedly fall on the ground. This way, He allowed Tongtong to hurt himself, but not harm himself. Also, because Tongtong was afraid of heights, He suspended him from a tree a meter off the ground as part of his therapy. After screaming for three minutes, Tongtong was let down. A month later, Tongtong’s behavior changed.
  3. Six year-old Feifei was prone to running into walls. If there was no one to prevent him from doing so, Feifei continues to run into walls until he was bloody. He treated this case by provoking the child to run into a wall in the presence of a parent. He then took the child’s head, and rammed it into the wall with the parent watching. Next, He asked for the parent to comply, but they refused, causing the parent to further cry in front of the child. After two months, Feifei’s behavior changed.
  4. Six year-old Liangliang loved playing with water to the extent that he would get his entire body wet. He took Liangliang to a pool where he immediately jumped in. As part of his therapy, He took Liangliang by the head, went to the deepest part of the water, and held his nose and mouth underwater for an extended period of time, twice. Later, if Liangliang was seen playing with water at the kindergarten, he was pelted with water from head to toe. A year later, Liangliang changed his ways.
  5. Five year-old Shuaishuai was prone to throwing things around. At first, striking Shuaishuai’s hand with a chopstick proved to be useless. Then, He devised a treatment: Shuaishuai was given a ball and allowed to to throw around. Later, when Shuaishuai reached out for the ball, He hit his hand. Shuaishuai then changed his behavior so that he only threw objects when no one was watching. At this point, He would hide and jump out whenever Shuaihshuai was about to throw anything. Six months later, Shuaishuai stopped throwing things altogether.

He Xiaoyan graduated in 2003 from Serious Medical Clinical Pediatrics. She also qualified as national second-tiered psychological consultant in 2012. In 2013, she received her PhD in teacher management studies from Beijing Normal University.

Credentials aside, He addresses the controversy against her treatment of autism in this interview:

Reporter: When undergoing your “violent” educational practices, have parents criticized your techniques?
He Xiaoyan: (laughs) Each time I’m about to employ a technique, I always notify the parents to ask if they have any suggestions. If they agree with me, I will execute the procedure. If they have any worries, I will not do it.

Reporter: Through your procedures, will the children suffer any harm?
He Xiaoyan: At the present time, there is no clear drug available that will cure children with autism. I am a doctor as well as a national second-tiered psychological consultant; one must have a firm grasp, not too hard and not too light, in order to apply the principles of these special education techniques. “Hate therapy” must be an organic synthesis of medicine and psychology which must be focused and creative in its application.

Reporter: Whenever you “get angry” and you hear a child cry afterwards, what is your feeling?
He Xiaoyan: Cruel, just mercilessly cruel. But, the goal is to cure them.

Reporter: How do you deal with all the criticism?
He Xiaoyan: So long as I have the parents’ approval, I will implement these procedures. They are the source of all my actions. I feel that by doing this I can save the children, save the family unit, and even the entire extended family.

autism therapy chongqing he xiaoyan hate therapy autistic children cureOne such child that has been successfully “cured” of autism is nine year-old Chunchun. Chunchun is currently enrolled in third grade at a regular school and was able to answer all of the reporter’s questions, even if she was a little shy.

Chunchun was rated on the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) at 16, in which a rating of 30 is judged to be autistic. Chunchun was also judged to have an IQ of 40.

Though details of Chunchun’s treatment weren’t revealed, he is said to have progressed so far at the school that he was able to sing the songs The Agreement of the Rainbow and Only Mother is Good in This World as well as perform the Cow Dance at the kindergarten graduation ceremony.

Because of successful cases like Chunchun’s, He has the support of her patients’ parents. Over 90% of the parents approve of  He’s procedures even though they consider them to be “cruel”. The parents believe as long as the child is cured, any method to achieve it is acceptable.

A Chengdu parent said:

When a child is afflicted with autism, it’s the whole family that must bear the pain. By sending the child here, there’s a hope that Miss He will be able to cure the child.

autism therapy chongqing he xiaoyan hate therapy autistic children cureMr Liu of Dadukou, Chongqing, had once gone to the kindergarten only to see his child’s condition flare up. That’s when he saw Miss He take the child’s head and ram it into the wall. Regarding the incident, Liu said:

As I watched, tears flooded my face and my heart felt wrenched out of my body. However, Miss He used the proper amount of force and didn’t allow my child to come to any harm.

Liu supports He to do the necessary job at hand. Liu said:

If it happens at home, we wouldn’t be able to act (like Miss He does against our child).

He has been rehabilitating autistic children with her “hate treatment” for some time now, and it looks like she will continue to do so as expert opinion remains divided upon the proper way to deal with autism.

Mei Qixia, Deputy director of the Chongqing Pediatric Growth and Development, supports He Xiaoyan and encourages “brave and creative” responses:

In regards to autistic children, if medicine will adversely affect the outcome of treatment, a normal way is to adopt training as the main method. Drugs can still be used to complement treatment during the procedure. After undergoing “special training”, the IQ and speech ability of some children can be recovered to the level by which some of them will be able to read normally. Speaking from a medical perspective, the methods of “violent” teaching can attempt or even encourage bravery or innovation. However, specific needs must be determined for each situation. They must be individualized and not treated the same way.

autism therapy chongqing he xiaoyan hate therapy autistic children cureTaking the contrary opinion is Dr Zhang Zhongming, Secretary-General of the Psychological Teaching and Work Committee of the National Psychological Association. Zhang stresses caution and calls for more research:

The causes of autism are not clear and I am against this type of “violent” rehabilitation. Through this training, the child can easily incur more hurt and harm, and does not bring about an easy application. Even though some cases have gotten good results, but we must first research the evidence.

With so much controversy surrounding her, we are reminded as to why He Xiaoyan opened a school to treat autistic children in the first place:

After seeing parents with tears running down their faces and a helpless expression, I made my decision.

Photos: Chongqing Commercial Report


Watch: Shenzhen Residents Run For Their Lives From Rumored Knife Attack

Posted: 05/29/2014 10:36 am

shenzhen panicMass panic, complete bedlam: video surveillance of Dongmen Pedestrian Walkway in Shenzhen this past Sunday shows a scene of utter chaos. The vicious knife attack that was rumored to have happened turned out not to be true, and neither was the actual cause of this panic.

RELATED: Panic in Shenzhen After Stabbing Rumor Spreads

The text at the beginning of this video reads (text missing from the truncated Liveleak version as are shots of police, but retains the suspenseful music nonetheless):

Knife Attack at Dongmen Pedestrian Street in Shenzhen Verified as an Online Rumor by Police

On the afternoon of May 25, information spread online stating a knife attack had occurred at Dongmen pedestrian walkway. When police rushed to the scene, they discovered there was no such case, but instead the chaos was due to a rack being knocked down in a subway shop by a person with a mental illness; this led to the surrounding crowd dispersing and causing panic. Here, QQ Live Video has obtained surveillance video of the scene.

Wait, so all this panic and people running for their lives was caused by one guy pushing down a rack in a store? Based upon the scant information we have, we can only surmise the guy who pushed down the shelf must be eight feet tall and works for Tywin Lannister, or that the rack that got knocked over must have held some kind of panic potion (conveniently bottled in fragile glass mason jars), or something to do with the detail of mental illness that always gets mentioned in stories like this.

They’re not the only ones. Shenzhen Daily reports this story with the following line:

Instead, police said the panic was caused by a suspected mental patient pushing over a shelf at Dongmen Metro Shopping Center.

But like the title of the video, the title of this story states that a rumor, not a suspected mental patient, is the cause of the panic:

Rumor causes panic at Laojie

Yes, a story about a rumor spinning out of control can’t get its own facts straight and causes more chaos, something that does qualify as “ironic” in every sense of the word if you’ve been waiting for a correct usage of the word.

As we reported yesterday, a 26 year-old Shaanxi woman surnamed Li has been arrested for her part in spreading rumors and inciting panic in the public. After some guy pushed down a shelf in a store (something something mental disease), Li made a post on Weibo that specifically described a knife attack happening in Dongmen by two men of an unclear ethnic origin and even posted bloody pictures of the scene (read the message in full here).

A person with mental disease named Huang but otherwise known as “Shelves McPushalot” is not the cause of the panic, otherwise he and his mental disease would be in jail; instead, he is the cause of the rumor.

The rumors are the cause of the panic.

[h/t Kotaku]

Photo: Sohu screenshot


Depression leading cause of mental illness in Shenzhen

Posted: 10/11/2013 7:00 am

One in five adults in Shenzhen suffers from a mental illness, Chinanews reported yesterday, which was the 22nd World Mental Health Day. Moreover, 90% of sufferers in the city have never accepted treatment for their mental health problems.

According to Shenzhen Kangning Hospital in Luohu District, which is at the centre of the city’s mental illness prevention network, 21.19% of the city’s population suffers from some form of mental illness either mild or serious, and 1.41% of the city’s population (that is over 150,000 people) suffers from a serious mental illness.

Liu Tiebang, head of the hospital, said one of the problems with combating the problem was the mobility of the population. Moreover, the city is hugely limited in its resources. The national standard requires a city’s mental hospitals to have 1.71 beds for every 10,000 people, but Shenzhen has only 0.43, less than one quarter of what’s required.

One of the most common forms of mental illness in the city is depression, and homesickness has been cited as a major cause. Last time a citywide survey was carried out in 2005, it was found that 8.78% of women and 6.75% of men in the city suffer from mental illness. As with most of the world, the prevalence is higher among unmarried people than married people. It is also higher among unmarried people than married people and those with more than 13 years of formal education.

Depression is curable. Here is a list of possible ways to combat it from Britain’s NHS website.

In spite of all this, it is not just Shenzhen that is facing problems in its approach to mental health treatment. South China Morning Post reported yesterday that Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, required its subdistricts to report at least two cases of grave mental illness for every 1,000 residents.

The paper has more:

The law requires all full-service hospitals to set up psychiatric departments in an effort to make up for previous disregard for mental health services. The law also ended involuntary treatment of mentally ill patients.

The order to identify and register those with severe mental illness follows a national directive from the Ministry of Health from July last year, which stipulates the number of cases each province, city and county-level administration had to report or face administrative penalties.

Is Shenzhen being burdened by this quota system or is it simply moving faster? Either way, the stigma attached to those who are certified as mentally ill in China is hard for a Westerner to imagine.


Psychiatric patients ‘abandoned’ at Dongguan bus station

Posted: 09/13/2013 7:00 am

Seven female patients from a psychiatric hospital in Zhuhai were abandoned at Dongguan’s Nancheng bus Station for 25 hours early this week, Nanfang Daily reports. A representative of Baiyun Psychiatric Hospital said nurses left the patients there by mistake but the patients, who were wandering around the bus station in their dressing gowns, have claimed otherwise.

Surveillance camera footage shows that at 2 p.m Monday, seven people entered the station unescorted.

While they were there, the patients didn’t harm anybody but drew much attention until police intervened. When hungry, they would eat out of dustbins or even grab food from passers-by. When tired, they would sleep on the floor.

Nurses from the hospital told them they had been discharged, drove them to the bus station, and told them they would be picked up there.

After Dongguan police traced the women back to Baiyun Psychiatric Hospital, the hospital checked its records and found no discharge procedures for them.

The two nurses who sent them to Nancheng Bus Station, Wang Ni and Fan Hong, said they thought they had lost the patients, but did not report the matter to the police.

This is the latest example of how difficult it is for China to care for its mentally ill.

The Atlantic had this to say in a recent report:

Statistics released by China’s National Center for Mental Health showed that as of the year of 2009, 100 million Chinese suffered from mental health problems with more than 160 million citizens afflicted with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and paranoid psychosis. Such figures indicate that one in every 13 Chinese in 2009 had a mental health problem.

If this Daily Mail report is anything to go by, it is not unheard of for Chinese cities to sweep their mentally ill under the carpet.

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