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In this study, there is detailed information on three cases, two of Karen Carpenter and Louise Gluck, who suffered from Anorexia Nervosa and one of Princess Diana, who suffered from Bulimia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa is the disease in which the patient avoids eating because of the fear of getting fat. It is more related to aping the bodies of film stars or suffering from a personality disorders in reality. The case of singer Karen Carpenter brought this disease to limelight.
The case of Louise Gluck presents a more positive preview of this disease. It killed Karan while Louis survived and led a healthy life. Bulimia on the other hand is a disease which is related to Binge eating. Princess Diana suffered from it for most of her life.
Eating disorders have now plagued the world for a long time and in recent times they have spread like epidemics. The affect of eating disorders on the economy and society is clearly visible. The impact of diseases like obesity, anorexia and bulimia is hitting us hard. Today, these diseases have become more devastating than other diseases. This is so because with eating disorders come other diseases like depression, heart disease etc. Also these diseases tend to weaken human immunity and their impact is far greater than many other diseases. Diseases like obesity have a clear visibility. But let us cite these two diseases through the means of an example. They are not so well known but nonetheless, they are equally deadly in nature. First one is Anorexia nervosa and the second one is Bulimia nervosa.
Firstly, Anorexia Nervosa.It means, in medical terminology, the disease of not eating because of nervous causes. A person is generally diagnosed with this disease when his/her weight goes below 85% *of the minimum required bodyweight. Anorexia refers to, in layman’s terms, not eating because of the fear of getting fat.
Anorexia, in recent years , has been found in women of all ages with most of the cases being between the ages of 12 and 18.Anorexia also originates from personality disorders. The parents of such persons are likely to be caring but very possessive and are often considered as control freaks.
One case that brought this disease to public notice was the case of Karen Carpenter. Carpenter was a world famous singer. She had been overweight in her childhood.When she was 17, Karen Lost 25 pounds of weight and stayed 120 pounds from the age 17 to 23.Karen’s lack of love and excess of control in her family led to Karen becoming compulsively obsessed with her weight (Shaw, Stice & Becker,2009).This obsession later developed into Anorexia. At 26, her immunity started to fail her. She began to fall sick one day after another.At 30; Karen married, even this time to a control freak, her husband. Although the stay at the hospital made her healthy, she decided to leave New York and became addicted to the drug Ipecac, which eventually led to her death because of a heart attack.
The other case is of Louis Gluck who developed Anorexia but recovered from it to become the poet laureate, the highest honor in the country (Gluck, 1994).
Now coming to Bulimia Nervosa.Bulimia Nervosa refers to the pattern of binge eating. The general symptoms are regular binge eating, incomplete attempts to compensate and the distortion of self image. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by repetitive and often occurring binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors The most commonly found form—practiced by more than 3/4th of people with bulimia nervosa—is self-induced vomiting, sometimes called purging; fasting, the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics and over exercising are also common.. Bulimia nervosa was coined and put into description in 1979 by the British psychiatrist Gerald Russell ( Stice, Presnell, Groesz & Shaw, 2005)
The paper is going to provide an insight into the effects of binge eating by taking up the case of Princess Diana. Princess Diana was a merman of the British royal family and the most beautiful woman in the world. She suffered from tremendous turmoil in her private as well as public life and as a result suffered from Bulimia Nervosa (Campbell, 1993)
The paper is also going to describe her life and her struggle with this disease in three parts.
As a child Diana suffered from guilty conscious. Her parents were disappointed at her not being born a boy who would inherit the vast Spencer fortune. Her father suffered from hot rages and a drinking problem. Her father and mother broke out and divorced which led to her living an isolated and rejected life (Morton, 1992)
Diana also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and stressed on keeping things neat. She was also a compulsive talker and socialized. Diana’s problems continued even after her marriage to Prince Charles, the Heir apparent to the British throne. Price Charles apparent adultery led to Diana going on binge eating and then vomiting to stay thin. Overtime, she even became suicidal. Then she began to express her anger through vomiting.
She also repeatedly tried to suicide in different ways. Diana also suffered from stress while dealing with the press who labeled her in different ways. Diana also suffered from post partum depression after the birth of her first son and then, the royal family became increasingly threatened by her, because of the changes in Charles attitude towards her. With time, her Bulimia continued and her self- esteem plummeted.
Diana led a very social life from the early ages of her life. In addition from social pressure to be thin, what triggered her Bulimia was extreme stress from the factors like social outlook of her family. But, what was most responsible for triggering her Bulimia were sudden demands from the press, the public, and the royal family to present her best appearance and be on her best behavior while at the same time harboring fears about Charles’s commitment to her.
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Biological factors that led to Bulimia
Biological factors in Diana‘s case were intense hunger and weight related thoughts. Essential nutrients are removed from the system during frequent vomiting, which increases the tendency to feel tired and depressed. Vomiting is reinforced because it alleviates both the pain of having too much food in the stomach and the guilt of having consumed too much food. In addition, the pain of vomiting causes the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that create a mild “high.”
Thus, the frequency of vomiting usually increases (Stice& Shaw, 2004).After vomiting, the system attempts to return its pH balance back to normal, but it is interrupted by the next bout of vomiting. All of this causes chaos in the system, which ultimately provides a basis for physical and emotional instability. Frequently, the bulimic will suffer from some related physical disorder.
Diana’s case demonstrates that both biological and psychological science need to be more mentioned in describing this condition. The psychological origin of such diseases needs to be investigated. Diana used many kinds of doctors and changed many therapies to get rid of her Bulimia. Cases like that of Princess Diana need to be investigated more skillfully and the proper treatment can be done only if the causes are thoroughly ascertained and precautions made public.
Likewise, Karen Carpenter and Louise Gluck suffered from Anorexia Nervosa, which stopped them from eating normal food, for they feared that the food would make them obese. While Karen lost her life, Louis managed to survive and lead a healthy life. Nonetheless, they were responsible for bringing the diseases into the eyes of the general public, which in turn led to a reformation of sorts.
Shaw, H., Stice, E., &Becker, C. (2009). Preventing eating disorders. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America, 18(1), 199-207.
Stice,E.,& Shaw,H. (2004). Eating disorder prevention programs: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin,130(2), 206-27.
Stice,E., Presnell,K., Groesz,L.,& Shaw,H. (2005). Effects of a weight maintenance diet on =bulimic symptoms in adolescent girls: an experimental test of the dietary restraint theory. Health psychology: official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 24(4), 402-12.