The Real Reason Karen Carpenter Was Driven To Anorexia

Taken from the Independent which is published in Ireland.  Their website is located    HERE.

Karen Carpenter was the instantly recognisable smooth voice of the wholesome 1970s brother-sister band, The Carpenters. Together, they sold 100 million records and had 17 hits before Karen’s shocking death from anorexia at the age of 32 in 1983.

In those days, eating disorders like anorexia were little-heard of and even less understood. Today, an estimated 200,000 people suffer from eating disorders in Ireland.

For years, biographers and filmmakers tried to tell the Karen Carpenter story but were thwarted by a family who were both grieving the loss of their daughter and very controlling about how they were viewed.

In the 1989 CBS film The Karen Carpenter Story, screenwriter Barry Morrow was blocked at every turn from telling the true story of Karen’s desperate desire for her mother’s affection. Karen’s mother Agnes and brother Richard insisted on scenes being rewritten as they were being filmed. Anything that reflected badly on the family was excised.

Now a new book by Randy Schmidt reveals the emotional problems at the core of Karen’s eating disorder, her relationship with her mother and Agnes’s inability to show the love and affection that Karen so desperately craved. Karen was adored by millions, her circle of friends loved her dearly but it was her mother’s love she never received.

Schmidt spoke to hundreds of friends and colleagues when writing Little Girl Blue and the picture that emerges of the Carpenter family is one of a controlling matriarch concerned with outward appearances.

Agnes is portrayed as stressed and uptight and was known among Karen and Richard’s musical acquaintances as the dragon lady. At Karen’s worst, her family insisted she had no emotional problems and that her ‘overdieting’ was something they could sort out by themselves.

In Little Girl Blue, Karen’s disorder is described as having started out innocently enough, when she wanted to lose a few pounds after leaving high school.

She had been a chubby teenager and in 1973, she saw a photo of herself that prompted her to take action. She had put on weight and didn’t look good in her stage outfit so she hired a personal trainer who put her on a carbohydrate-based diet.

Naturally, she began to bulk up. She fired her trainer and took her own extreme measures. She lost 20lbs and “looked fabulous”, said a sister of an old boyfriend. But unfortunately she didn’t stop there.

Her manager Sherwin Bash was horrified when he saw her new skeletal body. She hid by day beneath multiple layers of blouses and jumpers but at night, when she took to the stage in low-cut slinky gowns, there was often a collective intake of breath from her fans. They thought she was dying of cancer.

Friends were at a loss as to what to do. Karen was always a strong character when it came to getting others to face up to their problems (not least when her brother Richard suffered a Quaaludes addiction) but she refused to admit that her weight loss was anything more than stress-related.

At restaurants, Karen pushed her food around her plate or urged her friends at the table to try her meal, stealthily getting rid of her food whilst giving the impression she was enjoying her meal so much she wanted others to try it too.

Anorexia was a new disease and certainly not one with the high profile it has today. People were not aware of how to deal with it. They thought it could be cured by eating.

One friend read an article in a copy of Reader’s Digest and passed it on to Karen’s mother but as far as she could tell, Agnes never showed it to Karen.

Sherwin Bash also confronted Karen’s parents about her weight but they again took the stance that it was private family business. They thought psychiatrists were for crazy people.

In 1975, Karen was admitted to hospital, physically and emotionally exhausted from two years on the road and years of extreme dieting. This particular occasion got her mother’s attention and she nursed Karen. She even regained some weight — the singer, who was 5ft4in tall, now weighed 7st 6lb.

Despite the disastrous effect Karen’s weight loss had on her periods, she had always wanted children and in 1980 she met a handsome property developer called Tom Burris. Two months later they decided to marry.

This set off alarm bells for Karen’s friends and as the wedding date neared, Karen discovered some devastating news. Tom had had a vasectomy before he had met her and had neglected to tell her, despite her wishes to have children as soon as possible. He offered to have the operation reversed but Karen decided to call off the wedding.

When she told her mother, Agnes said she would do “no such thing” and ordered her to go through with the wedding because friends and family were travelling especially for it and it had already been paid for. And Karen did.

The marriage to Burris was a disaster. While Karen assumed he had his own money — he drove flash cars — it became apparent he was broke. He spent her money, asking for anything up to $50,000 at a time until she had nothing but investments left. He was cruel and impatient with her, calling her a “bag of bones” and telling her he would never have a child with her. Karen filed for divorce in 1981.

It was clear to Karen’s friends that her problem was emotional and that year she went to New York to get treatment from a psychotherapist called Steven Levenkron, who had written a book on eating disorders.

Karen had found new ways to keep weight off. She was taking huge volumes of laxatives — 80 to 90 tablets a night. She was also on thyroid medication to speed up her metabolism, despite the fact that she had a normally functioning thyroid. She was still exercising on her daily two-mile walk to Levenkron’s office and it later emerged that Levenkron was not even a real doctor.

After a few months in therapy, Levenkron called Karen’s parents and Richard to a family session, where they were urged to tell Karen they loved her. Richard readily told her but Agnes, whose love Karen really craved, chastised Levenkron for addressing her by her first name and informed him that was not how their family did things.

When Karen’s heart began beating unusually, she was admitted to hospital with dehydration and fed through a tube. She gained weight, stopped seeing Levenkron and returned to California.

By 1982, Karen was physically and emotionally depleted. On one occasion, her maid found her asleep on the floor of her wardrobe. On February 4 that year, Agnes found Karen naked, face down in her wardrobe, dead. She was 32 years old.

She had died from ‘ipecac poisoning’. Ipecac is a drug used to induce vomiting in overdose cases and Karen had been using it as another way of controlling her weight. She was not aware of its side effect of slowly dissolving the heart’s muscles and had been taking it every day.

In the final scene of The Karen Carpenter Story, Agnes Carpenter’s character gazes affectionately up the staircase at her daughter for the last time and says, “And Karen … I love you.”

Karen says, “I love you too, Mom. Goodnight.”

That final conversation on the eve of Karen’s death was unfortunately created by CBS “for the purpose of dramatic effect”.

Little Girl Blue: The Life Of Karen Carpenter is published by Omnibus Press.

Irish Independent

Mental Illness Musical “Next To Normal” Arrives In Los Angeles

L to R: Curt Hansen, Emma Hunton, Asa Somers, Alice Ripley, Jeremy Kushnier and Preston Sadleir

A rock musical that addresses mental illness may seem an unlikely candidate for Broadway, but “Next to Normal” is just that. It won three Tony Awards last year and this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama. Its touring company opened the show over the weekend at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Brian Yorkey wrote the words and lyrics.

“Although it seems like a very unlikely topic for a musical, it is about something that’s in a lot of people’s live,” says Yorkey.

The show had a modest beginning nearly a decade ago, part of a 10-minute musical workshop. As it developed, Yorkey focused on the failure of the medical industry to treat bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. But when producer David Stone of “Wicked” and “Spelling Bee” fame got involved, Yorkey shifted focus.

“The interesting story isn’t what happens if the medical industry doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do,” says Yorkey, “but what happens if the medical industry does do the best job it can do and the disease is still intractable.”

In other words, what happens to the people who live with mental illness? Asa Somers took part in the musical’s early workshops; he portrayed a doctor. He missed the Broadway run because of other obligations, and in the touring company, Somers plays lead actor Alice Ripley’s husband, Dan. Theirs is a modern day family trying to cope with very sophisticated situations.

“And I think the concept of normalcy is such a foreign concept to them,” says Somers, “maybe to many of us, that the hope for normalcy is not even in their vocabulary.”

Can a family going through one mental illness crisis after another ever get close to normal? “I think the very question is the thing that the show probably wants to explore: is the question even valid?”

Brian Yorkey and composer Tom Kitt began collaborating during their college days at Columbia University. Kitt believes “Next to Normal” could not, and should not, be performed as a straight play.

“The rule of musicals is that you sing when emotions are so great that you have to,” says Kitt, “and a story about a family going through the struggles of mental illness and bipolar disorder, music seemed to be the right way to go in terms of making this story more emotional for people.”

Kitt says the subject matter took the duo into uncharted territory. People would suggest that music about mentally ill characters should be off or atonal. “I think that once you write music that stands outside the norm, and you’re trying to be really, really smart in that way, you end up possibly alienating the audience because they don’t get inside the story and they watch something from a distance.”

You can get inside the story and the rock-inflected score of “Next to Normal” at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown Los Angeles through January 2.

Well Earned MVP Trophy A Happy Ending For Joey Votto

Not quite a year and a half ago I ran an article about Joey Votto and his battle with anxiety and depression.  It has been a very popular post that has drawn many people to this site.  This is the “happy ending” follow up.  The first article I ran is located    HERE.    Allan

Taken from CBS Sports which is located    HERE.

To understand the distance Joey Votto traveled to win the 2010 NL MVP award, you must turn the page back to 2009, to his father’s unexpected death, and to the depression and anxiety that he couldn’t shake for the longest time.

To understand not only the magnitude of what Votto did in leading the Reds to their first division title in 15 years, but the fragile nature of it all, you had to check in with some of his teammates during the summer.

“I think all of us went into this offseason worried about Joey,” Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo told me during a conversation in August. “Can he make it through 162 games staying upbeat and be the guy we thought he could be, the guy he was?”

By the time the fans voted Votto into the All-Star Game as the last man in, the slugger was well on his way.

By the time the Reds won their first division title in 15 years, the answer was a resounding, emphatic “Yes.”

That Votto (as in “lotto”) was named first on 31 of 32 ballots, while maybe a surprise to the new NL MVP, was just about right.

Three-time winner Albert Pujols, where the NL MVP discussion begins each summer, had another sensational season. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez, Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay and Jayson Werth, among many others, weren’t bad, either.

But Votto is the right choice.

“Not to be overly dramatic, but I couldn’t help but cry,” Votto admitted Monday on a conference call of hearing the news. “Because I know how much something like this meant to me and how much it would have meant to my father.

“I’ve overcome a lot, and I’m very proud of myself. I had a really difficult time getting over the death of my father. It’s still difficult for me now.”

There were nights in 2009, after his father’s sudden passing at 52 in August 2008, during which a still-shaken Votto wondered whether he would even see the morning light.

The oldest of four children, he developed a fear one night that he, too, might die early. Twice he was hospitalized during the ’09 season, and once, on a trip through Milwaukee and St. Louis, Votto developed such anxiety that he placed a middle-of-the-night call to 911.

Because of that, and an inner-ear infection that led to dizziness, Votto missed 31 games in 2009, including 21 from May 30 through June 22, when the demons were particularly vicious.

Meantime, the intensely private Votto, who is loath to talk about himself, hadn’t even discussed his father’s death with his own teammates.

“I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, and I didn’t understand how a guy can hit two home runs in a game and then go inside and start crying,” Arroyo told me during that August conversation. “It was hard for the team to understand. We didn’t know about his father’s death.

“You play the game like little kids — you don’t think about tragedy while you’re out there. That made it hard for all of us. We depend on him. It was hard for us because we relied on him. He’s such a big load, and then we weren’t going to have him.”

To have Votto for 150 games this season … well, the Reds surely would not have won the division without him, which is no small part of why he won this award.

You could see this one coming for nearly three months, since the Reds essentially wrapped up the division title in early September.

MLB Awards Season
NL MVP voting
Player, team 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Joey Votto, CIN 31 1 443
Albert Pujols, STL 1 21 8 279
Carlos Gonzalez, COL 7 13 240
Adrian Gonzalez, SD 1 3 197
Troy Tulowitzki, COL 2 132
Roy Halladay, PHI 1 3 130
Aubrey Huff, SF 70
Jayson Werth, PHI 52
Martin Prado, ATL 51
Ryan Howard, PHI 1 1 50
Buster Posey, SF 1 40
Matt Holliday, STL 32
Brian Wilson, SF 1 28
Scott Rolen, CIN 26
Ryan Braun, MIL 19
Ryan Zimmerman, WAS 18
Carlos Ruiz, PHI 12
Dan Uggla, FLA 12
Adam Wainwright, STL 12
Jason Heyward, ATL 11
Brian McCann, ATL 9
Adam Dunn, WAS 9
Ubaldo Jimenez, COL 7
David Wright, NYM 3
Corey Hart, MIL 2
Josh Johnson, FLA 2
Heath Bell, SD 2

Pujols led the NL in homers (42) and RBI (118), and that he got jacked around in the lineup earlier in the year while Tony LaRussa searched for a way to kick-start slow-starting Matt Holliday only amplified his value to the team. Maybe Pujols wasn’t thrilled to move from his customary third to fourth, but he didn’t bitch about it.

Votto led the majors in on-base percentage (.424) and led the NL in slugging percentage (.600). His .324 batting average ranked second in the NL; his 37 homers and 113 RBI were third.

That Votto was positioned in early September to win the NL’s first Triple Crown since Ducky Medwick in 1937 speaks to his all-around dominance.

That Votto did not wind up winning any of the Triple Crown categories speaks to the weight voters placed on his pushing the Reds to their first division crown in 15 years.

“Shocked,” is how Votto described his reaction to the runaway win, adding, “When I found out I was the NL MVP, I thought I must have snuck it in there. I didn’t think it would be so conclusive.”

Maybe that was because he was so focused on his own game. As it is, two windows into Votto’s game provide a glimpse of where he is — and of the levels he can achieve next:

While he led the NL with a .347 batting average against right-handers, his manager, Dusty Baker, was most impressed this summer by the way Votto “approaches left-handed pitchers, the way he studies them.” Baker compared Votto’s study habits to the way former pitching great Greg Maddux studied hitters: Instead of incessantly checking the video to see what he was doing wrong, he focused more on the pitchers themselves. He searched for clues like a good detective. Maddux did that with hitters.

He worked exceptionally hard last winter near his Florida home on his glove work at first base. Cincinnati’s Double-A hitting coach, Ryan Jackson, worked out with him and, as Votto pointed out, Jackson is left-handed and a former first baseman — like Votto.

“We’d make a point, him and I, to spend four, five, six days a week on defensive stuff, 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half a day,” Votto said. “I made a point last year to really try and nip all of my weaknesses in the bud. And I’m going to try and do that again this year.”

The great ones never stop working, and Votto allowed that while Pujols won this year’s Gold Glove award, he’s coming after the Cardinals’ great there, too.

“It would be kind of cool to win that,” Votto said.

One step at a time.

“It’s pretty frickin’ awesome to have beaten Albert Pujols for an MVP award,” Votto said.

It’s like beating the Yankees for a World Series title.

But the most frickin’ awesome thing about this was, over the telephone line, through the conference call, you swore you could see Votto smiling as he said it.

Free Through Suffering: Streams In The Desert, November 28th, 2010

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” Psalms 4:1

This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.

And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.

My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings — wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain. –George Matheson

If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he had never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck. –Selected

Praise & Worship: November 27th, 2010

Song List

1.  O Holy Night-  Bianca Ryan

2.  Little Drummer Boy-  Celtic Women

3.  My Help Comes From The Lord-  The Musuem

4.  Hallelujah-  Heather Williams

5.  Love Me-  JJ Heller

6.  Great Is They Faithfulness-  Metropolitan Baptist Church Choir

7.  Psalm 13-  Vineyard UK

8.  Abba Father-  Vineyard

9.  Beautiful, Beautiful-  Francesca Battistelli

10.  Day By Day-  Godspell/Robin Lamont

11.  There Is A Hope-  Stuart Towned

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, November 26th, 2010


I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.  Charles Spurgeon

New Praise Reports

Okie Preacher-

I can’t begin to tell you all how wonderful Rachel is doing. In a day where people being “touched” by the Lord during church is considered suspect, Rachel has indeed felt the hand of God. She is still struggling; but now with hope. I see the love of God in her eyes; she no longer has the look of desperation; I personally believe that God is on the way to healing her, but that is just a father’s hope.

Thank you all for praying…

Allan–  My wife Belinda had surgery for a badly damaged arthritic elbow this past Tuesday.  The results were excellent as she has gained range of motion back and the doctor is pleased with the results. She is home till after the New Year and has a lot of home physical therapy to do.

New Prayer Request

Captain Kevin–  Been going through a lot of pain and depression lately. So much want to exercise and get rid of these extra 40 pounds I’ve put on in the last 2 years, spend time studying scripture and improving my vocal and keyboard abilities, but I just can’t seem to get started. Sleep is my favorite pastime lately, but I don’t really want it to be.

Past Prayer Requests

Allan–  My friend’s brother will have a treatment for a tumor on his kidney in October.  Please pray it succeeds as his other kidney is non functional.

Allan–  Please pray for Rachel as she is battling bipolar disorder. Pray also for her parents who are fighting battles of their own.
Allan– Please pray for Natalie Tan as she has had a setback in her battle with her eating disorder.

Shaun Sells- Hi E – Thought I would give you a quick update. The group has slowly shrunk over the summer, last time we met there were only 5 of us. We are trying to regroup and refocus. Looking for good ideas and praying for someone else to lead it so the group can meet more than once a month.

Allan–  A woman e-mailed me tonight asking for prayer. She is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. She will be seeing someone tomorrow to apply for emergency Medicaid. She has been without insurance for two years. Please pray for her.

Set Free–  I appreciate that you still have our request for a building. Some opportunities have been presented to us but nothing yet. We did move out from our previous location but we are trusting and believing God for a place of our own hopefully before the year is out.

Mom–  Thank you for keeping my request on your prayer list. Our son is doing better and is now able to work and is hoping to return to school next semester.

He’s been through different combinations of medications and we are hopeful that the current combinations will work for him in the long term.

He is still discouraged and is beating himself up for disenrolling from school. We try to encourage him, but he doesn’t receive it.. We are praying that God would allow him to live a rewarding life and that he see God’s hand in all this the last 5 months. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Allan–  Dorci has had surgery to remove a cyst from her spine.  Please pray that God would allow her to heal quickly and completely.

Long Term Prayer Requests

Angela–  Keep Angela in prayer as she continues on her road of recovery from Anorexia.

Okie Preacher–  Battling unknown physical problems and depression.  “I have a physical problem that the doctors have not been able to identify. It has been characterized by severe muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, fatigue, shortage of breath, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and coughing fits that almost cause me to pass out.”

White Horses- Prayer for anxious thoughts and worrying.

Allan–  Our nephew’s wife has M.S.

PK Sweet–  please pray for a bipolar son with brain damage also…that he may know and love and follow Christ, be free of all addictions and self destructive behavior, get the help he needs and be @ peace…also that God help us all in the family to be filled with the Spirit and bear luscious fruit, and be filled with joy rather than despair

Set Apart: Streams In The Desert, November 25th, 2010

“He went up into a mountain apart” Matthew 14:23

One of the blessings of the old-time Sabbath was its calm, its restfulness, its holy peace. There is a strange strength conceived in solitude. Crows go in flocks and wolves in packs, but the lion and the eagle are solitaires.

Strength is not in bluster and noise. Strength is in quietness. The lake must be calm if the heavens are to be reflected on its surface. Our Lord loved the people, but how often we read of His going away from them for a brief season. He tried every little while to withdraw from the crowd. He was always stealing away at evening to the hills. Most of His ministry was carried on in the towns and cities by the seashore, but He loved the hills the best, and oftentimes when night fell He would plunge into their peaceful depths.

The one thing needed above all others today is that we shall go apart with our Lord, and sit at His feet in the sacred privacy of His blessed presence. Oh, for the lost art of meditation! Oh, for the culture of the secret place! Oh, for the tonic of waiting upon God! –Selected

“It is well to live in the valley sweet, Where the work of the world is done, Where the reapers sing in the fields of wheat, As they toil till the set of sun. But beyond the meadows, the hills I see Where the noises of traffic cease, And I follow a Voice that calleth to me From the hilltop regions of peace.

“Aye, to live is sweet in the valley fair, And to toil till the set of sun; But my spirit yearns for the hilltop’s air When the day and its work are done. For a Presence breathes o’er the silent hills, And its sweetness is living yet; The same deep calm all the hillside fills, As breathed over Olivet.”

“Every life that would be strong must have its Holy of Holies into which only God enters.”