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at the beginning of the film, says nothing,
and is merely shown seated in a laboratory
handling what appears to be some vertebral
elements of a large mammal (apparently, it
was considered too sensitive to show human
bones, even if not those of a n early American
Indian). In this instance, and for the final
question below, a major shortcoming of the
film is the absence of opinion from a professional human osteologist. These individuals
are, after all, a t the center of the controversy.
3. “What is the religious significance of
human skeletal remains to modern American Indians?” Although Hecht spends considerable time on this topic, a better
explanation is given in a soft-spoken and articulate account by Lotah. One could argue
convincingly that not all American Indians,
especially those of prehistoric times, share
the same religious concept about burial permanency, although Lotah denies this as it
pertains to modern Native Americans. Indeed, as Snethkamp alludes to, why should
bones be reburied when they were never buried to begin with, a s those of slain Iroquois
slaves? Or why should remains from primary
burials be reinterred, when they were found
by another American Indian during a secondary burial and simply discarded down a
talus slope?
4.“What are the ethical obligations of anthropologists and other scientists regarding
the treatment of human skeletal remains?”
Some attention was given to this point by
the archaeologists, who stressed the fact that
both artifacts and skeletal remains studied
by professionals are handled in a profes-
sional manner. The treatment of remains in
the hands of unqualified amateurs or collectors may often be shoddy, on the other hand,
which arouses not only Pink’s ire but mine
as well. Oddly enough, no mention is given
to a resolution on reburial, part of which
deals with this question, that was passed
unanimously by the American Association of
Physical Anthropologists in 1982 (Am. J.
Phys. Anthropol. 59230). A similar resolution adopted by the Society for American Archaeology (Am. Antiquity 49:215-216, 1984)
is probably too recent to have been mentioned here.
5. “What is the scientific value of human
skeletal remains?” If the entire controversy
is to ever be settled to the satisfaction of
archaeologists and physical anthropologists,
the latter are going to have to convince modern Native Americans of the value of studying the remains of early populations. An
introduction to this controversy to anthropology students should also indicate what can
be learned from old bones, yet there is virtually nothing in this film that deals with
this question.
From the technical standpoint, finally, both
color and sound are adequate, although in
several instances a person’s voice is barely
discernable a t the start of the interview before rising to a normal level thereafter. The
archaeologists are allotted a bit over 15 minutes and the Native Americans about 12
minutes. The professor of religious studies is
given 8% minutes, which in my opinion could
have been better used by a specialist in human osteology.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Northern Iowa,
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614
Produced by ABC. Distributed by CRM/McGraw-Hill Films, Del
Mar, CA 92014. 16mm, color, sound, $215; rental $22. 12 minutes.
This film was originally made for the ABC
television program 20/20, and it features
Hugh Downs as narrator and interviewer. As
one would expect, the technical aspects of the
film are excellent. The camera work, scene
transitions, sound recording, and color are
all first class. The script and scene selection
are also good.
Hugh Downs opens the film by briefly defining bulimia as the eating disorder in which
compulsive overeating is followed by vomiting, use of laxatives, or intense fasting. Most
bulimics are young women from middle-class
or upper-class backgrounds. Although the
majority of bulimics are neither overweight
nor underweight, their behavior is related to
a compulsion to be thin. Downs indicates that
bulimia can have serious health consequences because excessive vomiting can lead
to esophageal irritation, swollen glands, tooth
decay, stomach rupture, and damage to the
liver and kidneys. In addition, decreased potassium levels and other electrolyte disturbances can result in heart failure.
Next, we are introduced to several young
women-including Jane Fonda, a bulimic for
16 years-who discuss their eating problems.
We see a session in which counselors are
being informed about bulimia, we observe a
group-therapy session for bulimics, and we
hear parents of bulimics describe the difficulties they faced dealing with their daughters’
behaviors. No single cause is identified as
being responsible for bulimia. Although
physical factors are mentioned as possible
causes, greater stress is placed on sociocultural and psychological determinants. A connection is made between our society’s
growing emphasis on thinness, particularly
for women, and the contradictory pressures
to consume food. When bulimics indulge in
binge eating, “junk foods’’ like potato chips,
candy bars, ice cream, and cakes are often
consumed in huge quantities. For some girls
shown, the binge eating followed a period of
restrictive dieting, for others, it occurred at
times of stress, and for still others, eating
became a substitute for friendship. Vomiting
for many became a way of regaining control
after the binge.
Although it is unreasonable to expect a
brief introductory film to explore all aspects
of a topic, the relationships that exist between bulimia and anorexia nervosa are not
adequately discussed. We merely are told
that the two disorders are related. This, coupled with the statement that most bulimics
are of normal weight, may mislead viewers.
Casper et al. (19801, for example, found bulimia present in 47%of patients with anorexia
nervosa. The film also fails to adequately
indicate the frequency with which bulimics
engage in the overeatinglpurging cycle. In a
study of 40 university students with bulimia,
the most frequently occurring pattern was to
binge at least once a day and to end the
episode by vomiting (Mitchell et al., 1981).In
spite of these difficulties, the film can be a
useful introduction to bulimia in any undergraduate course that deals with eating disorders. Because the film touches on so many
issues, it provides a good springboard for
classroom discussions of such topics as the
relationships that exist between sociocultural contexts and eating habits and disorders, the roles of biological and psychological
factors in eating disorders, male/female statuses and roles in the U.S.,and the uses to
which vomiting and other purging techniques have been put in other societies.
Casper, R, Eckert, E, Halmi, K, Coldberg, S, and Davis,
J (1980) Bulimia: its incidence and clinical importance
in patients with anorexia nervosa. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 37:1030-1035.
Mitchell, J, Pyle, R, and Eckert, E (1981)Frequency and
duration of binge-eating episodes in patients with bulimia. Am. J. Psychiatry 1382335-836.
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