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The Eating Disorder – Anorexia Nervosa Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

There is increased eating disorder on various groups of people and especially the middle aged adolescent group. The eating disorders cause great morbidity and premature mortality risks mostly to young adolescent girls and women. Currently there are no solid proofs for the real causes of the eating disorders.

The current high eating disorder prevalence among young adolescent men and women have triggered a need for the search for modifiable risks factors that will help in explaining the causes of the disorder and how it can be mitigated.

Psychologists have associated the eating disorder to some psychological, socio-cultural and biological factors. This eating disorder is referred as Anorexia nervosa. The disorder is characterized by self eating denial commonly accompanied by excess body weight loss.

Anorexia nervosa is identified when an individual weighs 15% less than his/her body weight (Klein, Schebendach, Gershkovich, Bodell, Foltin & Walsh, 2010).

There is no exact known cause of Anorexia nervosa. Nevertheless, researchers have associated the disorder to be a resultant of some environmental conditions, personality traits, emotions and thinking patterns or some biological factors. In summary, the causes of Anorexia nervosa have been categorized into three classes by researchers.

The causes are biological, socio-cultural or biological. Researchers attribute overlapping socio-cultural accounts to include the tripartite pressure and dual pathway. Research has shown that a lot of pressure from pears, family and mass media has a tendency to trigger body dissatisfaction and eating disorders directly and also through two mediating mechanisms.

These mechanisms involve internalization of unrealistic and ideal societal attractiveness. An example for this is where ultra-thinness is considered as the ideal beauty for women. This entails from the tendency for an individual to frequently compare his/her physical appearance with pears or media ideals.

The other mechanism is where one suffers from elevation in negative effect. It has been noted that appearances pressure from the mass media, family or pears has been caused by social sanctioned attractiveness ideals that cause one to be dissatisfied with her/his body.

Consequently, body dissatisfaction eventually leads to eating disorders symptoms over time. It is perceived that plumb girls that have internalized ultra-thin ideals for attractiveness for women are vulnerable to later increases in disturbances that will affect their eating habit.

Researchers have identified that women often engage in frequent appearance comparisons than men and this makes them suffer from body dissatisfaction more than their counterparts’ men. This reason explains why there are many women that suffer from eating disorders than men.

Weight and body dissatisfaction have been highlighted as the major causes of eating disorders. It is noted that majority of the people that suffer from anorexia disorder are those that suffer from low-self esteem.

This is because adolescent girls or boys that suffer from low self esteem will most likely have a tendency to compare their physical appearance with those of their pears or media models and often consider their appearances as being inferior.

Most TV models and particularly in western cultures associate ultra-thinness with beauty for women. Therefore those adolescent girls that are plumb and suffer from low self esteem may tend to being dissatisfied with their bodies hence developing eating disorders (Hoeken, Veling, Smink & Hoek, 2010).).

There are some psychologists that consider those people that suffer from Anorexia nervosa not to have emotions. They regard them not to have emotions because those people that suffer from anorexia nervosa appear at first to be confused and behave as though they are not sure of their emotions.

This condition is referred as alexithymia that denotes a condition of difficulty in recognizing and expressing one’s emotional states. Some researchers have linked the alexithymia condition with fluctuations in mood rather than eating disorders.

Nevertheless, researchers have pointed a very close relationship between alexithymia and measures of depression and anxiety. The research also reveals that alexithymia is common for many people that have depression and suffered from the eating disorder.

This assumption have raised a lot of concern since many scholars are questioning how people suffering from eating disorders can have a problem in identifying other emotions such as anger and fear. This concern has raised a lot of interest on the subject.

This dilemma has lead to some researchers linking the cause of Anorexia as a result of a means of escaping painful affects. According to Jackson & Chen (2011), there is a model developed by Cooper that postulates positive beliefs about eating.

The positive belief of vomiting was determined to help the self to dissociate from the emotional distress that is caused by existence of negative beliefs. However, further distress occurs because of the existence of the negative belief about eating that perceives eating will make one gain weight.

This causes a conflict in an individual that result to a cognitive dissonance which makes them belief that their eating disorder is out of their control (Fox, 2009).

There are two types of eating disorders which are primarily restriction of food that is considered as an emotional avoider and vomiting which is taken as a suppresser of the emotion. People suffering from eating disorder are known to suppress anger much more than controls.

It is believed that suppression of negative emotions predicts body dissatisfaction. Various researches showed that women who were diagnosed with anorexia norverso recorded higher anger scores and anger suppression scores than controls.

Researchers were unable to identify the reason why anger was a difficult emotion, but assumed that the anger was a means of protecting the participants’ relationships. Similarly, researchers also noted higher level of other emotions such as anxiety and fear among those people that suffer from Anorexia norverso.

Moreover those people that suffer from eating disorder were noted to be highly disgust sensitive and particularly for their bodies and food (Karatzias, Chouliara, Power, Collins & Grierson, 2010).).

Anorexia nervosa is mostly considered as a heredity disorder that runs in families. Many researches conducted reveal that many of those patients that suffer from the disorder have relatives who have ever had the disorder.

Anorexia nervosa has vital short time and long time physical, psychological and sociological affects. The eating disorder makes bodies of people suffering from Anorexia nervosa struggle to manage insufficient calories and nutrients.

Most Anorexia nervosa patients are known to experience constipations, abdominal pains, dry, yellow colored skin, dizziness and disrupted menstrual cycles. When the eating disorder continues over a long period of time, the patient can develop osteoporosis, infertility, heart problems, anemia, and neurological problems among others. Osteoporosis is a condition that makes the density of bones to reduce.

This is a very dangerous condition because it can make the victims vulnerable to painful fractures especially in the hip and spine. In addition, it leads to loss of height and continuous disabling pain.

People that suffer from Anorexia nervosa for a long period of time deprive their bodies essential nutrients and minerals such as calcium that are responsible for making bones to grow and become strong. The most affected people are adolescents since most eating disorders develops from age 13 through out the teenage period.

Eating disorder during this age is very serious since it is the period when the bones of the adolescents are developing and reaching their peak strengths. Therefore, denying the body necessary nutrients through Anorexia nervosa can lead to serious health issues as aforementioned above (Soban, 2010).

Eating disorder has been noted to cause disruption in the menstrual cycle. Prolonged Anorexia nervosa may lead to infertility. Infertility occurs in women suffering from anorexia nervosa when their body fats drops drastically, thus inhibiting the production of estrogen hormone that is needed to stimulate ovulation.

Most of those women that develop infertility as a result of Anorexia nervosa regain their fertility once they resume eating well and after gaining some weight. Anorexia nervosa is also known to cause heart problems and anemia.

The heart develops problems due to wearing out of the fat that protects the heart from injury. Severe anorexia nervosa results to weakening of the heart muscle that in turn weakens the heart. Consequently, the weakening of the heart muscles leads to low blood pressure and pulse which eventually leads to a slower rate of breathing.

People who suffer from severe anorexia nervosa can consequently develop nerve damage which will in turn affect the brain.

The damaging of the nerves can lead one to suffer from a state of confusion, seizures, numbness and peripheral neuropathy. Some people regain their normal status when they start eating well and after regaining some weight, although in some cases some damages is permanent (Sang, Jaussent, Raingeard & Bringer, 2010).

People that suffer from Anorexia nervosa are known to possess interpersonal distress. The interpersonal problems are believed to be caused by the physical and psychological problems that are associated with patients that suffer from anorexia nervosa such as low-self esteem, perfectionism and physical impairment.

For instance, some people that suffer from anorexia nervosa are noted to demand so much from others. Such situation makes people to pull away from them such that they are left in isolation. Such isolation makes these patients develop hostility towards other people and disaffiliation.

Alternatively, the isolation can lead them to develop a desperate need for others and intrusiveness. Both these two situations lead to strained relationships and social functioning impairment (Hartmann, Zeeck & Barrett, 2010).

Anorexia nervosa is heterogeneous. It affects both men and women. Nevertheless, there is a difference in the way men and women differ in the manner in which they view their body image, dieting and what motivates them to exercise.

The image relayed by the mass media about how ideal men should appear is totally different to the message the mass media give about how ideal beautiful women should look like. The media portrays ultra-thinness as the beauty for women, while it portals that men should be masculine in order to be liked by women.

One symptom of anorexia nervosa in men is excessive exercise. The effects of anorexia nervosa in men include the loss of approximately 20% of weight which is very dangerous to their health. This is because men possess less fat than women and therefore when they loss weight they loss more of their muscles than fat.

Men that suffer from anorexia nervosa have interpersonal problems and most of them opt to live single lives. Most of those that marry may opt not to get children. Severe anorexia in men is also noted to cause infertility in men since it greatly reduces the level of the testosterone.

Moreover, anorexia nervosa in men has been associated with lack of sexual identity in men. This can be linked to the reason why majority of those men that are diagnosed with the disorder are mostly homosexual or heterosexual (Lindblad, Lindberg, Hjern, 2006).

Reference List

Fox, J. (2009). A Qualitative Exploration of the Perception of Emotions in Anorexia Nervosa: A Basic Emotion and Developmental Perspective. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy,16, 276–302.

Hartmann, A., Zeeck, A. & Barrett, M. (2010). Interpersonal Problems in Eating Disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 43, 619–627.

Hoeken D., Veling, W., Smink, F. & Hoek, H. (2010).The Incidence of Anorexia Nervosa in Netherlands Antilles Immigrants in the Netherlands. Eating Disorders Association, 18, 399–403.

Jackson, T. & Chen, H. (2011).Risk Factors for Disordered Eating During Early and Middle Adolescence: Prospective Evidence from Mainland Chinese Boys and Girls. Journal of Abnormal Psychology © 2011 American Psychological Association, 120, 454–464.

Karatzias, T., Chouliara, Z., Power, K. Collins, P. & Grierson, D. (2010).General Psychopathology in Anorexia Nervosa: The Role of Psychosocial Factors. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 17, 519–527.

Klein, D., Schebendach, J., Gershkovich, M., Bodell, L., Foltin, R. & Walsh, T. (2010).

Behavioral Assessment of the Reinforcing Effect of Exercise in Women with Anorexia Nervosa: Further Paradigm Development and Data. International Journal of Eating Disorders ,7, 611–618.

Lindblad, F., Lindberg, L., Hjern, A. (2006).Anorexia Nervosa in Young Men: A Cohort Study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39, 662–666.

Sang, C., Jaussent, I., Raingeard, I. & Bringer, J. (2010). Is Decision Making Really Impaired in Eating Disorders? Neuropsychology © 2010 American Psychological Association 2010, 24, 808–812

Soban, C. (2010).What about the Boys? Addressing Issues of Masculinity within Male Anorexia Nervosa in a Feminist Therapeutic Environment. The College of New Jersey.

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