Monday, December 20, 2010

The Betrayal of Christina Corrigan: Thirteen Years Later

I've had a lot of time to think about this case. The year I went on disability [1997] and other health problems from a massive weight gain, is the year this case broke. Fat girl is is found dead on the floor next to some food containers, covered in waste and her mother is arrested and charged with neglect. In size acceptance news, it is the top story for months. It hits me in the gut, because I weigh about the same that VERY year and knew I was dying, and did not know why. For those who are new to this blog, see this entry.

Christina Corrigan was a young girl of thirteen who weighed 680lbs at the time of her death. Her mother later was arrested and charged with child abuse pending accounts that Christina had been found covered in bed sores and in feces. Marlene her mother was later convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.

Marlene took her daughter to doctor after doctor over 90 times, to deal with her mounting weight. Christina weighed over 200lbs by age 7, she was to gain more then 500lbs the next 6 years. In regards to the trial, one fat activist talked about it on CNN:

HULLINGER: Judy, as you sat and watched this trial, why have you come to the conclusion that obesity is the central issue of this?

FREESPIRIT: Because the mother was not neglectful of this child. The child was definitely fat. She definitely had the bed sores that they claim she had. The problem was that the mother was never able to get any help from the medical establishment.

She took the child to the doctor 90 times between the age of birth and eight. All that she ever got was low calorie diets and told to exercise her. She never got any kind of medical help. After you've gone 90 times to the doctor and gotten no help, why go again?

The problem is that we assume that there was something there for her. There may have been, but she wasn't getting it where she was going, and she was a member of an HMO.

The people that failed Christina was not only her mother but the medical establishment, she had been taken to doctors with no help, and only blame. It is interesting to note that her mother received blame to the criminal end, unlike the sympathy a woman would received for a child disabled by another condition. One thing, the claims about the urine and feces are a joke, everyone who dies, loosens their bowels.

The pure neglect of health problems of the severely obese and the myths that surround them grow worse and worse. No normal 13 year old girl would have been able to eat her way up to this weight. It is interesting to note that this girl up to age 3 was on a medication known for weight gain for the treatment of grand mal seizures that can bring in pituitary involvement. My conjecture today is either this medicine affected Christina's metabolism or Christina had undiagnosed Prader Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects hunger and metabolism and can lead to severe weight gains in children. It is obvious too, that Christina Corrigan lacking mobility and worse, her mother was struggling to care for her.

Cardoza, the lawyer in the case admitted that medical problems not mere overeating probably contributed to Christina's weight. Her former doctor as Cardoza attested on a talk show I watched {Leeza}, said "Lady, there's nothing wrong with your kid, quit feeding her."

Sadly Christina's doctor blamed a genetic predisposition to gain weight, overeating and lack of exercise. He did some basic tests but ended it after that. His prejudices leading to bad science and what happened to this girl: Lowest common denominator medicine with a giant dash of laziness included! Even a sane person would ask..."What could a thirteen year old eat to weight 700lbs, and would a normal thirteen year old even have that type of appetite? The answer to these questions are in the negative, but when it comes to fat people, hatred overrides common sense.

Marlene attested to going to doctor after to doctor until giving up. If she is guilty of anything perhaps that is it, but the doctors are just as guilty then.

What gets me, is if the doctors didn't play the game of moral judgements of refusing to find a cause of obesity based on prejudice and the claims of immoral behavior and gluttony, what is ironic is at least some supersized people if treated with the correct medical insight could avoid the special challenges of being super sized to begin with.

Christina Corrigan for her weight alone was denied access to a normal education. From the facts of the case, one could deduce, that money was tight in the household. Her school which was placed at the top of a hill required students to walk up several flights of stairs, that Christina was incapable of surmounting. [Wonder how many disabled or older folks, can't go up them either?] NO special education or other arrangements were made. She dropped out and had to be home-tutored.

The possibility of Prader-Willi syndrome was immense. I found it odd, how no samples had been saved at her so called autopsy to do a DNA test. In Prader-Willi syndrome there is high tolerance to pain and often times skin-picking which could have accounted for all the bedsores all over Christina. The defense also pursued the avenue of brain damage from her treatment with Phenobarbital.

Only a cursory examination was done at the autopsy of Christina. The coronor looked no further then for outward visual clues denying the opportunity to find out the actual malady that affected Christina. No samples of her tissue were taken.

Christina was treated in life as she had been in death. After failing to find the reason for her extreme weight, her main pediatrician referred her to a nutritionist. Cardoza, the attorney said Dr. Ray should have realized something more needed to be done after she saw Christina's weight ballooning for six years. "My God!", he said outside the courtroom, "If that wasn't a pattern, what is a pattern?"

While her mother perhaps failed her in some ways , many other people were just as culpable, the school in failing to provide an accessible school or classroom, social services for not providing home health care, the nutritionist in not realizing this was a problem that no diet counseling in the world could solve,the doctors in not adequately diagnosing the disorder or providing other case management or help.

Today I ask, has anything changed? Are there going to be new Christina Corrigan's? Will a new young woman watch the weight go up up up, only to be blamed and vilified and not believed? The sad thing I think is probably so.


  1. The medical establishment in the US is very lax now,and does not want to diagnose anything.I should know,I and many people I know,tell,"all our doctors are LAZY now;they do not want to work.
    they do not want to diagnose."Many of my friends have said that,doctors are sitting on their duffs,and blaming their patients for being sick.Because they get limited for pay,they have decided,to not work,not diagnose,and not try hard to find out what;'s wrong with patients.I have heard this over and over; I know many people,who had their doctors tell them to go to psychiatrist,cause they did not want to do the work,to diagnose what was wrong with them.

    One woman quit her hmo,cause that doctor did that to her;sent her to psychiatrist.Instead,she had to go to a doctor who only took cash,and he actually tried to diagnose,and treat her better.Notice,the ones on insurance got paid,and so,did not have to work.The doctor who got cash,was very motivated to get her better.And,he did.

    We have ahuge problem with insurance; insurance pays doctors,automatically,so they stop working so hard.It is not worth it to them.Which is why many do not take Medicare,and only accept high paid insurance,and may specialists also demand a lot of cash with it.So,if you're poor,or middleclass,no,no doctor is going to try to cure you,on an HMO.

  2. I agree Dorothy, I think they have gotten very lax and everything is lowest common denominator, so those who fit special cases, don't know what to do. I have a disorder I wish theyd explain to me, about the parathyroids, and I know they are testing levels from my insurance papers, so color me confused. If any one has something exceptional or rarer, its like they are not diagnosing it anymore. There are conditions Ive heard of, that doctors seems to have never read about even in years of medical school. Many do blame you when you get sick, for me I believe they think I am eating and living in a way, I totally am not, and this is making things very hard on me. VERY HARD.
    But even other non-weight conditions, they say have you ate right? Some people are eating extreme diets to fix stuff that don't work, and Im worried how I didnt see results from gluten free even.

    Sometimes I am wondering if they see a risk, in diagosing someone that does not fit the common picture because of the insurance rules. Its hard to tell but they are not acting like they did in the old days, where they worked hard to find out what was wrong, and to fix it. You are right the insurance pays automatically anyway.

    Around here most of the doctors don't take Medicare, it is getting scary out there. One can read about those with rare diseases [including myself with the PCOS and other endocrine] taking YEARS to get diagnosed. What are they teaching them in those medical schools? They need to stop fixing just symptons and to the core root of problems.

  3. Are you kidding me? How do you think she ballooned to that size? Did she inhale the fat from thin air? You HAES people are delusional and disgusting, you enable this kind of behavior.

  4. well MAYBE if she stopped shoveling food in her and did some exercise this wouldn't have happened.

    1. Even if you go with the theory of a serious eating disorder, and even her mother was called a liar as to how much she ate, how many kids even want to eat that much? Did she wake up and think I want to be giant and fat? Something was broken in her body, something was not working right.

  5. Sure anon like that has worked for fat people in general....

    If she had Prader Willi she could have turned the calories into fat, that in your body never would have been.

    I am NOT a HAES person, actually READ the blog you are on.

  6. "If she had Prader Willi she could have turned the calories into fat, that in your body never would have been."

    But she couldn't do that unless she were eating those excess calories in the first place. The bottom line is that it is not physically possible for this girl to have weighed 680 pounds at age 13 without hugely overeating. This woman allowing her morbidly obese daughter to overeat and continue to become more obese was child abuse. Could there be a disease that made her daughter gain weight faster than she might otherwise? Sure, it's possible. But even if that was true, management of a disease like Prader-Willi is TO EAT LESS. So what exactly is your point?

    Whether thyroid problems, genetic diseases or anything like that were involved, the bottom line solution needed to be calorie reduction. This is an inescapable fact.

  7. Just saw an article on Salon about this girl, went looking for more info, and saw your blog. I also thought "Prader Willi" syndrome when I read the description of the mother taking her to docs but getting no help.

    My weight situation isn't similar to yours, but I have recently gone from a person who was often called "too skinny" to 200 pounds. 50 pounds of this was in one year.

    My sister, who has now been labeled by the mean girl in our family as "the skinny one NOW" (she was a chubby baby) yet still is slim, was diagnosed by a doctor as having thyroid disease. (Amazing how many people were insulted in so many ways by 4 words). I went miles out of my way literally to see this doctor, but no diagnosis.

    I thought about having gastric bypass, which I qualified for, but after reading that the effects don't last, and seeing that in one case of a person I know, decided to try to keep all my original parts, even my stomach.

    Having read your story, I want to pursue thyroid issues again before I start suffering other health effects of gaining weight.

    I am sorry that you have all these hater trolls here saying fat people are lazy and eat too much. I used to think that too although I was never so rude about it. I guess you need to experience this situation where you up your exercise and lower your calories and still gain, before you understand it.

  8. Thanks I am glad you found my blog. I have always thought Christina Corrigan had Prader Willi, or at the very least another undiagnosed serious condition. Honestly going from a traditionally "thin" person to overweight even if on the "mild" side, has to be devastating, I've heard others talk to me about this who enjoyed having regular "thin" lives, I suppose on some lesser level it would be like what I went through going from a "normal" run of the mill mid-sized overweight person to circus lady fat status.

    Some people with the hyperthyroidism do get smaller. I have a sister I am now estranged from, who became extremely thin from hyperthyroidism, but what gets me while they will admit that people can eat all those calories and still wither to nothing, why not the opposite? I'll put forth that question to the other commenter here too who seems overly brainwashed about calories as if the human body ran like a car based wholly on direct thermodynamics. In other words, if some people can eat a bunch of calories and get THINNER because their thyroids are on overdrive, why is the other side of the coin seen as impossible, and then toss in other factors in the mix such as additional endocrine problems, problems with the food, etc.

    Sorry you did not get diagnosed. Avoid WLS, I am not getting it even being so fat, and have seen people literally DIE from it. It seems to work for the ones who manage to survive the table for a 1-3 year period and then fails, and fails big time. The puking, pain, problems with digestive organs, etc, just is not worth it.

    Make sure the doctors do a TSH on you. Toss in t3 and t4, not just a general thyroid panel.

    Yes I am tired of the "We don't believe you lazy fat people" crowd. Some better wake up and realize their stubbornness isn't helping anyone its led to the failure in dealing with the problem of growing obesity.

  9. To my calorie reduction friend,

    could you eat only 600--800 calories a day.

    Yes that is what they put the PWs on in the group homes.

    I doubt you are eating that little.

    So why are you going to ignore issues of metabolism and others and continue on fat people are just lazy and eat too much high way.
    Adult years During these years, parents may be decreasing their role of supervision as the young adult may have the desire to live independently and work in vocational settings. Although adults with PWS do not live on their own, they may be living in group homes. They may begin to use public transportation and this will offer opportunities for them to buy or steal food. New supervisors may need to be educated regarding monitoring and controlling dietary intake. Calories will remain between 1,000-1200 kcal /day. Some may be even be dropped to between 600-800 kcals per day if rapid weight loss is needed. The lower caloric diet may be dependent on their physical activities and the amount of weight gain. Their body mass index (BMI) should always be < 30. Calcium and multivitamin supplements must be given to prevent further osteoporosis. Frequent weight checks are necessary during this new time of independence and change of supervision. - See more at:

    You are going to tell me hunger levels and metabolism don't matter, that fat people are just awful and deserve what they get.

    I added up my calories last week, one day was 1850, and the highest was 2400. The average was closest to 1900-2000.

    Isn't that supposed to be the normal intake of calories for a THIN person?

    Maybe I am not active.

    Yes I am failing to take them lower. I am hungry. I have hunger pain now but am busy, as I have written this body never leaves me alone. I ate at noon. I wish I could just go without eating and be done with the whole mess, I'm busy writing stuff online.

    So when we look at the Prader Willis-getting fat on food that consists of one moderate meal a day--perhaps a soup and sandwich for a 24 hour period, you are going to tell me fat people deserve what they get?

    One thing Ive noticed is my temperature is always low 95-96 is the average.

    Why don't they study any of this stuff?

    Sure food reduction. The PWs because of their developmental disabilities, they basically lock them up in group homes with their locked refrigerators why they starve all day long,[trust me even then many stay fat] and you are going to tell me obesity even for other fat people is only the result of bad choices, morality and poor willpower?

  10. You guys shouldn't judge her i mean i know that she was a little overweight but underneath all that she is a really nice and sweet girl mso dont hate on her because if that was you would you want all these hate commments so just get over it and be nice not rude treat others the way you want to be treated

  11. Thank you so much for this article. as a nutritionist who has struggled with extra pounds all of my life, I am sure you have made many valid points here. All diets are :Fattening and Dangerous", is my belief. I pray you will find the answers for yourself as you explore these issues. I continue to support people at

  12. The only betrayal of Christina Corrigan was by her mother who continued to feed her these amounts of food when she was bedbound - against the direct orders of her doctor. To pretend anyone else than the monster who overfed this child when she was unable to get up from eating too much is absurd.

  13. What amounts of food? the mother reported she did not overfeed her and she did not overeat compared to a normal child. Remember I am the person who just spent 17 years having people tell me I was crazy and just "making excuses" trying to find out why I had such an extreme body to find out I had lipedema with a shut down lymphatic system and a change in fat that brings on incredible weight if you have it severely enough [beyond the hormone stuff that took me some years too] I would lay money down that this girl had either hypothyalmic obesity or Prader Willi or some unknown rare disorder. No child has an operating body to even would WANT to eat that much to put so much weight on.

  14. My husband is obese, my weight is in the normal range. Yet we eat basically the same amount of the same foods virtually every day.

    We have two rescue dogs, both of whom were nearly starved when we adopted them. Now, 8 years after adopting our Cattle Dog, she has ballooned up to where she can barely walk. But our other rescue dog, a poodle, is the perfect weight for his size and breed. And yet, our dogs eat the same diet.

    I suppose it's possible that my husband may sneak some extra food now and then, although I have never seen any evidence of this happening in our ten years of marriage.

    However, I am certain that our obese dog does not sneak any extra food. Like the commercial says, she would get it herself, but she doesn't have thumbs. :)

    Our Cattle Dog was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid a few years ago. She is on medication for that and her thyroid levels are regularly checked, yet her weight keeps going up.

    My husband is on a medication for PTSD which is known to cause obesity. I am not on any medication at this time, other than a low dose of Synthroid, because my thyroid runs a little low without it. After a lifetime of having below normal to normal weight, I put on about 20 pounds when I was diagnosed with PTSD and put on an antidepressant. Since I weaned myself off the antidepressant and started taking the Synthroid, I have lost approx. 12 of those excess pounds. I would like to lose at least 5 more pounds. But even so, my weight is currently in the normal range for a woman of my height and age.

    And yet, as I said, I eat basically the same diet as my 300-pound husband.

    If I did not live in the same house with my husband and our dogs, I would probably assume that the mother of this poor girl lied about how much food her daughter ate. I might also think, like at least one of the commentors here said, that her excess weight could not have come out of "thin air."

    BUT... I know better. I know, not only because of my current situation with my husband and our dogs, I also know because of what I experienced when I was a teenager.

    In 1967, when I was 14 years old, I had a “nervous breakdown” after living through a series of extremely traumatic events. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was still unknown in those days; in fact, PTSD did not become an official diagnostic label until 1980. Prior to this more enlightened time, the standard treatment for mental health issues of any kind, including mild cognitive impairment, was to lock you in a human warehouse and throw away the key.

    Although I was not a criminal and my behavior was never out of control in any way, thanks to my abusive, scapegoating parents, I spent almost two of my teenage years in a state insane asylum. There were approximately 50 women on my ward. We had no freedom, we were locked in day and night, and we had no access to any extra food. We were all given the same meals, three times a day. There were never any second helpings of anything.

    While it was certainly possible to under eat, by not eating all of the slop on your tray, it was impossible to overeat. We did not keep leftovers – anything left on your tray at the end of the meal was thrown out. There were no vending machines on our ward, no refrigerator, no pantry cabinets, and no microwave oven (if it had even been invented yet). For the forgotten people on our ward, there were almost never any visitors coming by with gifts of food or candy.

    And yet, although we were all served identical meals three times a day, there were obese women on the ward, there were skinny women on the ward, and there was every size in between.

    (continued below)

  15. (continued from above)

    So, okay, you may be thinking – the obese people did not exercise and the skinny people did? NOT TRUE. During my nearly two years in the loony bin, I never exercised, not one time, and yet I was just as skinny when I was released as I was when I was committed there. The vast majority of my fellow patients did the same thing I did: we spent all day, every day, sitting in a chair, staring vacantly into space, because the doctors kept us quiet and manageable by drugging us into oblivion.

    Only two or three of the women had a nervous habit of pacing back and forth. These few seemed to be immune to the tranquilizing effect of the Thorazine. And yet, as I recall, the women who did a lot of pacing were all overweight.

    I am not a scientist, so I don't know how these things are even possible. But what I really don't understand is why this phenomena hasn't been thoroughly studied and explained.

    I also don't understand why people have to be so judgmental and hateful. When I was a young girl and people called me “skinny,” it hurt. And it hurts me just as much today to see the way my obese husband is treated.

    1. Thanks Alaina, it is scary how basic common sense and observation is ignored when it comes to obesity. In the old days they accepted different metabolisms and somehow that went by the way side, you never hear about it anymore as they focus on fat people all being lazy. My husband is large and weighs 200 or more lbs less then me, but far smaller then and he eats the same amount or even more--adding things I can't eat to the diet, like some donuts or potato chips.
      We eat the same meals, I serve us in the kitchen on the plates and carry them out. We have the same number of food items like 1 sandwich for lunch and a cup of soup yesterday and burritos or whatever else you can name.

      I have seen animals of different size too. One cat my family had was very fat and eating the same as another that was very thin.

      Stress will put on weight with the PTSD. I wish they'd do a study of PTSD. I was diagnosed with it three times. Hypothyroidism can wreck havoc, I had a small weight gain and was freaking out but found out my TSH had gone back up, and needed more thyroid meds which in me are so high.

      Yes many people assume the mother was lying. I think of how I was told I was lying and how it almost led to my death. This girl literally died from the blind doctors. .

      Thanks for telling us your experience in the psych ward. I saw this as a residential counselor, girls under controlled food, same servings, so why were some thin and some hugely fat? We cooked the same meals for them all, the snacks were doled out and limited to one a day. It was a closed house so no one was sneaking off to get food. I was allowed meals there and they gave me hell for every little thing I ate, because of the "you're so fat, you must be eating everything". I got accused of taking snacks I never touched, it made my life hell on the job.

      So sorry you got locked away, and simply had PTSD. I am curious about one thing, were you able to tell the counselors how abusive your parents were or did no one ask or were you too scared? Mine threatened to commit me night and day during my early teens, I was doing nothing but reading books, going to school and riding my bike around, they simply hated me. I am so sorry 2 years of your life got taken away. Maybe my state it was harder to commit people, here I know you need two doctors to sign off and a judge.

      Yes on a psych ward the food would be even more controlled then it was at my residential home. We had some really anal types counting every piece of lunch meat in the place. Still there was fat and thin girls, and yes they told us to put the fat ones on diets. I remember fat girls being told they could only eat one piece of chicken and not two. I didn't force these rules again causing me more trouble.

      So yes you saw the skinny and fat eat the same food and no differences in exercise. You think these things would be known in our society, the differences of metabolism but the FATTIES MUST BE OVEREATING brainwashing is extreme.
      I'm not surprised to hear the fat women did more pacing. One thing I noticed is thin people who seemed to move less. Even those studies about thin people supposedly fidgeting more are bunk. I moved around constantly out of nervousness when I was young, didn't make one whit of difference.

      I don't understand why they have not studied this stuff. For years for this blog I even tried to find studies of severely obese people and found NONE except a few metabolism studies overseas. Our powers that be do not want the truth known about obesity, they just want to profit off us while lives are lost.

      One thing I think of lately is why do they make all the psych drugs to fatten people up? You ever notice that how none have weight loss but they always have weight gain as the side effects? Even with my struggles with depression out of my fear of an extra 50lbs destroying my life and mobility I never could touch the stuff.

      I agree some are abused over being thin as much as some over being fat.


    2. I am sorry you went through that horrific experience. I do know narc parents will often use the system to abuse their kids. The rich ones will put them in those police state mind control schools where they make them clean the floor with a toothbrush and feed them gruel or they die on camping trips as they make them climb mountains in the heat.

      I have the feeling that the psych wards are full of teens and other children committed by narc sociopathic parents.

      Did the psychiatrists ever look at your parents?

      You know when I found out my sister got sent to a psychiatrist and some very troubling things were found out about her this year from my brother, I was pissed. I thought why didn't that guy investigate the home I was in and save me from some of the abuse. They may have taken her out instantly but a few phone calls may have helped my life. I am sure my parents put on a phony display and yours too.

      I was betrayed not being told the truth about my sister. I was too naïve to realize why she was growing so cruel but then she was matching my mother more and more.