Girl dead from rare circumstances and fear of toilets; family used alt treatments

A strange story that raises the question — should she have been evaluated for her mental condition? This was a preventable death.

A teenager died from a heart attack caused by constipation – after going eight weeks without a bowel movement, an inquest heard.

Emily Titterington, 16, had a phobia of using the loo and would frequently withhold her stools for up to two months.

Eventually her bowel grew so large it compressed her chest cavity and caused the displacement of other organs.

Source: Teenage girl with toilet phobia dies from heart attack after going eight weeks without using loo

Emily had mild autism. Her abdomen was distended because of this serious condition. How was this not noticed as very serious!?

During the inquest, a family member said they had tried a number of different remedies included homeopathic pills, and “a technique known as Body Talk, which involved so-called “distance healing”.” So, it appears they knew she had some ailment, but it’s not clear what they thought they were treating her for nor monitoring her condition.

Her mother says that Emily did not want to be medically examined. Yet, she was not capable of that decision considering her age. The mother claims that Emily could have been saved if she had been “designated a support person, a professional person allocated to herself that she could build a relationship with.”

It is extremely rare to die from this condition.

To what degree was the family too reliant on alternative cures? Did this cause them to delay action that could have saved her life? Was there neglect considering her mental condition? These are questions that automatically surface when reading this story. We will follow up on the inquest results.

Addition (2-July 2015): A BBC report today says Emily’s sister Hannah “raised concerns about the impact “parental anxieties” had on her, and said she had warned social services “something terrible might happen” the year before.”

  6 comments for “Girl dead from rare circumstances and fear of toilets; family used alt treatments

  1. WMcCreery
    July 1, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    Once again ignorance kills!!

  2. Barry
    July 1, 2015 at 6:40 PM

    Homeopathy doesn’t kill! It just convinces people with life-threatening diseases not to seek effective treatment so the disease kills them…

  3. Z-one
    July 1, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    This sad story is another answer to the question “what’s the harm?” I can no longer suffer alt medicine shruggies.

    I have an in-law who practices “Body Talk”. He has also practiced reiki and muscle-testing in the past. His gullibility seems to be bottomless. The frustrating thing is that he has a PhD in biochemistry! Intelligence and critical thinking are apparently not correlated.

    Years ago, when I was suffering debilitating seasonal allergies, he offered to do muscle testing on me. That was my introduction to that bogus diagnostic method. He identified a plant that is clearly not the offending species, and I stopped him mid way through his routine to say “thanks, but no thanks.” I haven’t taken his advice on anything since.

  4. Russian Skeptic
    July 2, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    A very bizarre story. Why didn’t they give her enemas?
    Yes, a mildly autistic person can have problems with defecation and can erroneuosly believe that avoiding it by bowel control is good behaviour. I am that kind of person, and as a child I had constipations caused by withholding the stool. No more than for a week, however. And my grandmother would give me enemas then.
    And this girl was a bit too old to practise this trick. I did it when I was under 10. How absurd that no one had noticed the girl was behaving childishly. Apparently, she must have had other signs of immature behaviour.

  5. Christine Rose
    July 2, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    Possibly because she had behavioral problems and fought any attempts to give enemas. At age 16 she would have been old enough to give herself enemas, unless her level of impairment was higher than what I would consider “mild.” It certainly clear isn’t but it’s possible that they were faced with the possibility of using physical force and involuntary sedation, with or without medical assistance. It also appears that it was an ongoing problem. They may resorted to force in the past, and she probably had damage to her bowel nerves.

    Again, none of it is clear, but it is fairly easy to construct a scenario where the parents cycle back and forth from heroic, painful, and traumatic interventions to wishful ideas like Emily learning to trust a nurse or distance healer. At some point the parents become numb to the whole situation and fail to appreciate how badly the child is doing. Perhaps they were on the verge of sedating her and treating her against her will but gave the magic one more chance.

  6. Russian Skeptic
    July 3, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    Behavioral difficulties are not that simple. I never resisted any medication (included enemas), because once I tried to resist nose-drops application, and I did not succeed, I only was traumatized more than if I had not tried.
    However, I surely was not able to perform enemas on myself until my 20s. We autistic people are very sensitive to body borderlines.

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