Doctors Remove 78 Forks, Spoons from Woman's Stomach
A Holland woman obsessed with eating cutlery had surgery recently to remove 78 forks and spoons from inside her stomach. Her doctors say when 52-year-old Margaret Daalman, of Rotterdam, would sit down for a meal, she would ignore the food and consume the silverware instead. She eventually went to hospital complaining of a stomachache and was rushed into surgery after an X-ray revealed the dozens of forks and spoons clanking inside her.
"I felt an urge to eat the silverware. I could not help myself," she told doctors. Interestingly, she never consumed any knives. Daalman was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and is undergoing therapy.
Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which a person makes impulsive actions, usually in an area that has a potential for self-harm. Binge eating is a common symptom of BPD as well as acts of self-injury. The disorder tends to occur more often in women.
Patients with BPD often have a disturbance in the sense of self, and can lead to periods of dissociation – a disruption of the normal integration of a persons psychological functioning that cannot be easily explained. The cause is often complex and unknown, such as a history of childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect, genetic predisposition, neurobiological factors, environmental factors, or brain abnormalities.
BPD patients, such as Ms. Daalman, carry out self-harming behaviors that may or may not be actual suicide attempts. BPD is often characterized by harmful actions that are triggered by seemingly minor incidents and common triggers, such as stressful life events.
The ingestion of foreign bodies in patients with personality disorders was reported in a case study presentation in the 2007 journal Psychosomatics. One distinctive feature of this method of self-harm is that it may not be immediately apparent to the physician when the patient presents with complaints of abdominal pain and/or nausea. The behavior may be a form of aggression arising from a traumatic experience in which the patient turns the rage upon herself. The act may be a form of secretiveness or control. Or the physical mutilation may be an effort to gain help for their disorder.
The treatment for borderline personality disorder is primarily psychotherapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy is one treatment specifically developed for BPD with a goal of helping patients balance acceptance and change. The initial priority of therapy is to discontinue the self-harming and life-threatening behaviors.
Although reports say that Ms. Daalman is responding well to therapy and has made a full recovery, many patients with borderline personality disorder have a poor outlook for recovery because of non-compliance with treatment. In a significant percentage of patients, the behaviors are repetitive.
Sources: FoxNews, National Institute of Mental Health, Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine
Denise Reynolds RD LDN