Anorexia Nervosa

Severe and Enduring Anorexia Nervosa and Futility: A Time for Every Purpose?

Psychiatric Clinics of North America
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


The concept of futility in the treatment of individuals with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa remains controversial and has significant legal and ethical considerations. For those who have been unremittingly ill for 8 to 12 years, full recovery, although possible, is unlikely, and alternatives to traditional, active treatment must be explored. The harm reduction model, palliative care, and end-of-life care are explored as meaningful and reasonable treatments for this population. Landmark cases demonstrating the legal and ethical controversy of such treatment are explored.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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