In the United States, as many as 10 million females and one million males are fighting a life and death battle with anorexia or bulimia and another 25 million with binge eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. In years past, the majority of clinicians have rejected the idea that eating disorders have biological roots. Most believe eating disorders are tied more closely to psychosocial and family influences.

Chicago-based treatment center Timberline Knolls takes the revolutionary former approach to eating disorders, which some experts have deemed controversial. In order to further educate treatment professionals who have patients battling eating disorders, Timberline Knolls and the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association are hosting a conference on May 2 at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Waltham, Mass.

Timberline Knolls Medical Director Kimberly Dennis, M.D. and primary therapist Stanley Selinger, Psy.D., will discuss the latest brain research regarding eating disorders as well as their own experience in treating eating disorders.

“Viewing eating disorders as an addiction is another tool in tackling the serious nature of these disorders,” said Dr. Dennis. “By giving treatment professionals a hands-on presentation, we hope they’ll feel confident in this approach to treating their patients.”

The presentation will focus on current research that reveals the probable genetic link for eating disorders and other addictions, as well as the growing recognition of both disorders as “brain illnesses,” not unlike depression. Additionally, Dr. Dennis will present other brain research to help explain the addictive nature of eating disorders.

“It has been discovered that eating disorders have an ‘opioid’ effect on the brain,” said Dr. Dennis. “Those who have eating disorders are addicted because they provide an artificial calming effect and a sense of relief, helping to initially or temporarily reduce anxiety. People with eating disorders become addicted to this calming sensation.”

The presentation will also address lessons learned from clinical experience as well as psychodynamic, behavioral and 12-step recovery approaches for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. Dennis will further explain how these approaches can be applied to the treatment of eating disorders.

“We are excited to present this approach and the supporting research to our peers,” said Dr. Dennis. “Giving treatment professionals different methods to help their patients is imperative to successfully steering patients towards the road to recovery.”

For more information on this conference, or to register to attend, please contact Ibbits Newhall at 914-912-7561 or by e-mail at

About Timberline Knolls

Timberline Knolls specializes in helping women and adolescent girls 12 and older, offering treatment for complex co-occurring disorders that can include self-injury behavior (SIB), substance abuse, eating and other affective disorders. For more information on Timberline Knolls and the services offered, visit