Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anorexia Nervosa: Chirac & Faustian Pact

Reading a new book sometimes brings you the unexpected.
In Ahead of the Curves, the author told of the story he heard of Jacques Chirac and his pact with West African marabouts, witch doctors. He was told to sacrifice one of his daughters if he wanted his presidency. Soon after his younger daughter, began suffering from anorexia nervosa.

So, I Googled Chirac’s daughter:

Telegraph: By Colin Randall
Published: 07 Dec 2004
President Jacques Chirac's wife has broken a 30-year silence to talk publicly about the anorexia that drove their elder daughter to try repeatedly to kill herself.

"A mother who fails with a child, who cannot bring a sick child back to health, always feels guilty," Bernadette Chirac said on French television. "And a father, too."

Laurence Chirac, now 46, was a promising medical student and worked for a short time after her studies with Samu, the emergency medical service, in Paris.

But she had suffered from an acute form of the eating disorder since she was 15, leading to several stays in hospitals and clinics.

Sixteen years ago, during her father's second presidential campaign, she was taken to hospital amid widespread rumours that she had died.

"Being famous can be harmful when one is faced with illness," Mrs Chirac said. "Confronting this kind of difficulty, you just want to hide from the gaze of others."

Laurence, whose younger sister Claude is a key member of the president's team at the Elysée, continued to suffer from the condition. In 1990 she tried to commit suicide by jumping out of the window of her fourth-floor flat.

A nurse assigned to her round-the-clock care was unable to stop Miss Chirac, who survived with a broken pelvis and head injuries.

Little has been heard of her since and Mrs Chirac said merely that she always kept the hope "pinned to my heart" that her daughter would recover.

Mrs Chirac has been the president since 1994 of a charity seeking to create better conditions for children and teenagers in hospital, enabling them to listen to or play music and play sports. She agreed to talk about her daughter on a France 3 discussion programme, “You Cannot Please Everyone”, to help publicise a new clinic for adolescents, La Maison de Solenn, funded by her charity.

"These children need some gaiety in their lives, to be able to see the sun," said Mrs Chirac,

She contrasted this ideal with the conditions in which her daughter was sometimes treated, "enclosed behind brick walls in a bedroom with a small window". She added: "That is why this mother wants to create a facility specific to adolescents' needs.

French Health Care as experienced by the President’s daughter.
We did not do too badly with our own Adolescent Psychiatric Units.


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