Behavior: Family Sickness

A sullen twelve-year-old girl hunches over in a chair, surrounded by her father, mother, sister, brother and a child psychiatrist. Her problem: severe asthma that will not respond to medical attention. After listening to the parents discuss the asthma, the psychiatrist suddenly switches attention to the sister's ample figure. She is clearly overweight. Isn't that a family problem too? As the family starts talking about obesity, the asthmatic girl sits up in her chair.

According to the psychiatrist, Dr. Ronald Liebman, Chief of Psychiatry at Philadelphia's Children's Hospital, that shift in the discussion...

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