Anorexia nervosa is a serious psychiatric illness with a high morbidity and a significant lifetime mortality. Recurring themes in such patients centre on issues of self-worth and control. Treatment is difficult and prolonged, and may require hospitalisation. Therapy focuses on altering the misperceptions that patients have of themselves, both psychologically and physically. A multi-disciplinary team based in a specialised unit provides the treatment of choice, but if this is not available, a consistent, supportive relationship with an individual therapist familiar with the condition will be beneficial. Successful outcome should be based not simply on body weight but also on the resolution of anorexic thinking.