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Anorexia’s Fallen Angel: The Untold Story of Peggy Claude-pierre and the Controversial Montreux Clinic

by Barbara McLintock

When Peggy Claude-Pierre, owner of the Montreux eating disorders clinic in Victoria, appeared on The Maury Povich Show along with her acutely anorexic client Samantha, the consensus was that Claude-Pierre was heaven-sent. Why else would no one, least of all Povich himself, question Claude-Pierre’s judgment in allowing her gravely ill patient to sit in a television studio (promoting Claude-Pierre’s methods) when she clearly belonged in a hospital?

This, as we learn in Barbara McLintock’s Anorexia’s Fallen Angel, was a telling oversight. During the love-in between Claude-Pierre and the media, which gained momentum over the next few years, not a single journalist questioned Claude-Pierre’s credentials (non-existent), her staffing standards (several counsellors were former patients still receiving treatment), or the lack of support for her outrageous claims (90% cure rate).

In 1999, several former employees blew the whistle on the $500-a-day faciltity. The unconditional love she espoused often involved a combination of house arrest and force-feeding, as it turned out. By the time Claude-Pierre finally shut down for good, several of her patients had died and many more had relapsed.

Anorexia’s Fallen Angel is a cautionary tale, and Barbara McLintock, who has written about the controversial clinic from the beginning, is uniquely qualified to tell it. The award-winning journalist for Vancouver’s The Province has delivered a fascinating, level-headed account of the rise and fall of this notorious clinic in the form of case histories, anecdotes, and courtroom drama. In the background are the near-delusional 70-pound adolescent girls – whose tragedy is no less heartbreaking for being by now well-documented – and their hopeful families.

But the book’s most disturbing accusations are reserved for the press. Without letting herself off the hook (she was an early passenger on the Montreux bandwagon), McLintock describes seasoned journalists abandoning well-established professional standards, succumbing to the dubious claims of the charming but reckless Claude-Pierre, and as a result providing false hope to thousands of anorexics and their families.


Reviewer: Rachel Rafelman

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada


Price: $32.95

Page Count: 352 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-00-200092-X

Released: May

Issue Date: 2002-4

Categories: Science, Technology & Environment