Victorian MP Reveals her Battle with Anorexia

I was moved and proud to hear this speech from a woman in public life “coming out” about her life-long and ongoing eating disorder, and the shame and blame which accompanies it. I salute her courage. Her speech resonates with the themes of my novel A Dangerous Daughter TO WATCH THE FULL VIDEO GO TO https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-02/celia-hammond-eating-disorder-stigma/100429028?utm_source=abc_news_web&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_campaign=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR3BfP9my8XAlMjJG5WXyUWutVfNqi0731yX8n1J8V9sFM02j7kY9UpmHHg   Liberal MP Celia Hammond tells Parliament about her own struggle to live with anorexia for more than a decade.  In an effort to fight the stigma she says is still attached to it.Ms Hammond said anorexia was a “miserable and isolating” disease, but with treatment, she has been able to manage her illness. She told Parliament that shame and stigma were holding people back from seeking a diagnosis and getting treated.  HERE IS HER SPEECH IN FULL:  This government has invested significant amounts of money into the treatment of and research into eating disorders, and I commend the Prime Minister, the Health Minister and the Assistant Minister for Mental Health on the efforts they are taking to challenge this cluster of diseases.But I don’t want to talk about the treatment or the research efforts tonight.I want to talk about the reality of the disease and the stigma which is, sadly, still attached to it.I can talk about the reality of eating disorders because I am someone who suffered anorexia for more than a decade of my life, complete with several recoveries and several relapses.If truth […]

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A Dangerous Daughter: the poem

This poem tells the story of my novel, ‘A Dangerous Daughter’ without the details, plot twists, and characters in the novel. I promise no Spoilers! Let me know what you think of my poem. A Dangerous Daughter She wakes with a jolt, Already late. Morning tea break. Her limbs all ache. She swings legs to the edge, Mere bones like twigs Skin stretched over, Dry as sedge. She moves from the bed, Slow and painful. Everything hurts, Her heart and her head. Smells hot buttered toast, Craves just a taste. The tiniest crumb Will seal her fate. Pulls on a skirt Her gaunt frame bent. To hide her shame, A top like a tent. She could be ninety, But is only fifteen. Her shrivelled body Mustn’t be seen. You’ve blighted our lives Daughter once dear. The devil’s got you We’re the victims here. They send her away Out of their sight So they can forget Their shame and fright. Exiled from her kin, Across the land, Girl hides her sin As best she can Aunt’s teagown strains. Over ample breasts. “Just look at the state of you, It’s wicked,” she says. “Going out like that? In the ground I will sink. You’ll frighten the neighbours. What will they think?” Girl shakes her head Runs a comb through her hair. A quick flick, no more And she’s out the door. She has a disease It has no name. It brings her […]

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Why I Wrote A Dangerous Daughter

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”  Sigmund Freud. My story began more than 50 years ago. At the age of 13, I began refusing food, and my weight dropped dramatically. This was seen as wayward, even wicked, behaviour. Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a primitive and brutal practice in the 1950s, failed to cure my mysterious condition. Partly to protect my parents and sisters from witnessing my decline, and partly as a last ditch effort to ‘cure’ me, I was exiled from my family in New South Wales, and spent several painful years with relatives in Perth, Western Australia. By the age of 15, starvation had wreaked extensive damage to my body and mind. I was given two months to live. I was inspired to write the novel A Dangerous Daughter by the need to understand my past. Rather than exorcising my demons, the creative process pulled me back into those dark years. Reliving the trauma slowed the writing process, but the thought of helping other young people and their parents kept me going.  In the 1950s in Western Australia, the term “anorexia nervosa” was not generally known, although the illness had been identified as early as1873 by Sir William Gull. So, it was inevitable that the victim was often blamed for her incomprehensible symptoms. Miraculously, through the work of my psychoanalyst, and my own fierce will to survive, I went on to write this book, and hopefully to help others who are […]

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An interview with the author of “A Dangerous Daughter”

https://youtu.be/WVze-9n5MpA https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-jyh2r-106ccb8 In this Utube video and podcast with Darren Saul of #PlayingWithPerspective, I talk about what inspired me to write A Dangerous Daughter, how much is drawn from my life, and insights into psychoanalysis and anorexia nervosa. Please note some of the content and images may be distressing for some viewers. Here is a link to the paperback and e-book: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Daughter-Dina-Davis/dp/0645175811

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A Word from my Publisher

I am fortunate to be the first author invited to publish by Cilento’s Author First Initiative. Last year I was thrilled to receive a call from Co-Founder Evan Shapiro, inviting me to submit the manuscript of A Dangerous Daughter to be under this wonderful initiative. This quality small press invites only one author each year to submit a manuscript, and if it meets […]

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Here she comes!

In a matter of days my second novel, A Dangerous Daughter, will be released into the world. I await its birth with some trepidation, hoping that the characters portrayed therein will enlighten and amuse, rather than cause offence or anxiety. You see, this book is based on a true story; that of my own early life. It tells a story of loneliness and pain as well as enlightenment and joy. Although some characters are inspired by those I knew in my youth, I have gone to some lengths to conflate, disguise and invent new characters. SO that my heroine’s sister is a conflation of my own two sisters but nothing like either of them. Most importantly I want readers to know that the main character, Ivy Morgenstern (that’s an imagined portrait of her above) is definitely not me. For a start I was a weedy, dark-haired child, nothing like the freckly auburn-haired teenager gazing at you with eyes both challenging and curious. So to my readers, including extended family and lifelong friends, i say to you: do not take offence. Above all, do not judge the characters too harshly, remembering they are not real people, but the products of my imagination. My book will be launched into the world on June 24, at The Bookshop, the only independent bookshop in Darwin. If you can come along at 5pm that night I would love to see you, and to sign one […]

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Why I Wrote A Dangerous Daughter

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”  Sigmund Freud. My story began more than 50 years ago. At the age of 13, I began refusing food, and my weight dropped dramatically. This was seen as wayward, even wicked, behaviour. Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), a primitive and brutal practice in the 1950s, failed to cure my mysterious condition. Partly to protect my parents and sisters from witnessing my decline, and partly as a last ditch effort to ‘cure’ me, I was exiled from my family in New South Wales, and spent several painful years with relatives in Perth, Western Australia. By the age of 15, starvation had wreaked extensive damage to my body and mind. I was given two months to live. I was inspired to write the novel A Dangerous Daughter by the need to understand my past. Rather than exorcising my demons, the creative process pulled me back into those dark years. Reliving the trauma slowed the writing process, but the thought of helping other young people and their parents kept me going.  In the 1950s in Western Australia, the term “anorexia nervosa” was not generally known, although the illness had been identified as early as1873 by Sir William Gull. So, it was inevitable that the victim was often blamed for her incomprehensible symptoms. Miraculously, through the work of my psychoanalyst, and my own fierce will to survive, I went on to write this book, and hopefully to help others who are […]

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The Joys and Perils of the Writing Life

The Joys and Perils of the Writing Life So here I am, as Abraham said to the Lord when offering up his son for sacrifice. “Here I Am” is the title of a wonderful new book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a monumental work close to 1000 pages, exploring themes of cultural identity, fidelity and betrayal, the ephemeral nature of love, families functional and dysfunctional, and what makes them so. As for me myself and I, this post is in the nature of an apology to you, my readers, for my untoward absence. SInce I last posted back in April, life has overtaken me. There’s been illness, convalescence, slow recovery, as well as the joys of grandchildrens’ birthdays. and celebrations of their achievements, some sojourns in beautiful Darwin, home of my daughters and grandsons, and the minutiae of everyday life. On the writing side, I’ve been hard  at work on my new novel, ‘A Difficult Daughter’, and preparing my first novel. ‘Capriccio’, for publication. This entailed a major rewrite, mostly in appeasement to Faber and Faber, publishers of the works of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and the Hughes Estate. Like Jonathan Bate, I fell foul of the Estate when requesting permission to quote thirteen lines of Hughes’s poetry, fully expecting dispensation for such a small amount of material. The lines I quoted were used to introduce chapters, each of which was given the title of one of the ‘Capriccio’ poems […]

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