An eating disorder is a way of using food to work out emotional problems.
These illnesses develop because of emotional and/or psychological problems.Eating disorders are the way some people deal with stress. In todays society,teenagers are pressured into thinking that bring thin is the same thing as beinghappy. Chemical balances in the brain that may also result in depression,obsessive compulsive disorders, and bi-polar disorders may also cause someeating disorders.
Other causes may be emotional events, illnesses, marital orfamily problems, manic depression, or ending a relationship. Over eight millionAmericans suffer from eating disorders. Over 80% of girls under age thirteenadmit to dieting, one of the main factors linked to eating disorders. Althougheating disorders are mainly found in middle- to upper class, highly educated,Caucasian, female adolescents, no culture or age group is immune to them (EDAHP, n.p.).
The three major eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimianervosa, and compulsive over-eating or binge-eating.The most dangerous eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosatranslates to nervous loss of hunger. It is a mental illness involving theirrational fear of gaining weight. Usually, the victim is a perfectionist,although he or she may suffer from a low self-esteem.
In general, a member ofthe opposite sex triggers anorexia. The first disease resembling present-dayanorexia is one called Anorexia Mirabilis, or Miraculous lack ofappetite. It is described as a disease of insanity, possibly like cancer,tuberculosis, or diabetes. It was believed to arise from a diseased mentalstate. Sir William Gull, a physician to Englands royal family, said thatthese anorexics were suffering from a perversion of the will (Silverson).
In 1888, a French psychiatrist, Charles Lasegue viewed anorexia from a socialstandpoint. He believed it was a way of rebelling. The Children of this timewere expected to and forced to clean their plates. They were also accustomed towell-regulated meal times. Another cause of the disease in the Victorian era mayhave been womens expectations, such as to remain home after childhood. Theironly job was to get married and enhance the familys social status. Noemotional outbursts, such as temper tantrums were permitted.
The family life wassuffocating, but a young woman was able to protest in a semi-acceptable mannerby not eating. If she became ill, she became the center of attention andconcern, often her goal. Victorian women kept with the ideals of the time byrefusing food and restricting any intake. A hearty appetite was said torepresent sexuality and a lack of self-control, which was strictly prohibitedfor women.
The era was emphasized by spirituality, which also had an impact onthe restriction of meat. Ironically, most of the women were large, as commonmeals were high in starches. Medical evidence of the existence of anorexia hasbeen documented as far back as 1873. It was decided that this refusal of foodwas to attract attention.
An American neurologist, Silas Weir Mitchell sawanorexia as a form of neurasthenia, a nervous disorder characterized by nervousexhaustion and lack of motivation. Mitchell thought the disease was caused byany stressful life situation in combination with social pressure. Treatment wasa so-called parentectomy, which was removal from the home, andforce-feeding, if necessary. Mitchell preferred the pampering method, consistingof a diet low in fats, total seclusion, bed-rest, and massage therapy. SigmundFreud, a psychiatrist from Vienna, believed that anorexia was a physicalmanifestation of an emotional conflict. He believed that anorexia might belinked to the subconscious desire to prevent normal sexual development.
In the1930s, doctors theorized that the only way to permanently recover from anorexiawas to explore the cause of the disease in the individual, in addition to weightgain. In 1973, Dr. Hilde Bruch brought the disease to light for the first timewith her book, Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the PersonWithin.
She believed that anorexics had sever body-image disturbances thatmade them unable to identify with and express their emotions (Bruch). In1982, scientists at the Edinburgh hospital in England hypothesized that anorexiahad a physical basis. These scientists conducted an experiment with 22volunteers, ten of which were recognized as anorexics. The anorexics claimed tofeel full several hours after eating, supporting the idea that anorexia may havebeen a digestive disorder. They disregarded this theory as they noticed thatwaste excretion was equal to the normal samples. Anorexia was finallyrecognized as an eating disorder in the late 1870s.
Anorexics use food to focus on controlling their life by starving to death.Ultimately, the illness takes control and the chemical changes in the bodyaffect the brain and distort thinking, making it impossible for the person tomake rational decisions, especially about eating. Sa the illness progresses, thevictim will suffer from a form of exhaustion from food deprivation. If leftuntreated, anorexia can result in death as the body literally feeds off thepersons organs, muscles, and tissue. Anorexia can cause moodiness andfatigue.
Anorexics are hungry all the time, and their mainstream of thinkingrevolves around food, sometimes to the point of obsession (Silverson, 9).Physical symptoms of the illness make it very easy to recognize, such as aconstant feeling of coldness, fine hair growth as a result of decrease in bodytemperature, lack of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and dehydration cause theskin to turn brownish and crack, hair falls out, and lack of potassium causeskidney and heart failure (Epstein, 55). Often, anorexics claim to feel betterafter they begin to restrict their diet.
More than 90% of cases of anorexia arewomen. Factors that contribute to the illness are personality, familyrelationship, and distorted body image. For a young man, anorexia is often aresult of dieting to over-come obesity or to attract a member of the oppositesex. As the victim begins to lose weight from the restricted diet, she enjoysthe extra admiration and attention she receives.
As the comments stop, as aresult of her becoming too thin, she assumes that she is too fat, that her dietis failing, and she restricts her food intake even more. Although anorexia isthe most dangerous eating disorder, it is certainly not the only eating disorderthat can harm mental and physical health.In addition to anorexia, another dangerous eating disorder is bulimia.Bulimia is different from anorexia in that bulimics eat continually, or havelarge amounts of food in a short period of time, and the throw up or purge insome way to prevent gaining weight from the food (Vitkus 115).
Bulimia was firstdescribed in the late nineteenth century, but did not receive much attentionuntil the 1940s, when it was thought to be a symptom of anorexia. Because ofthis supposed relationship, the disease was first called bulimarexia. In1979, it was declared to be a separate disease, and named bulimia, a namethat means ox hunger. Bulimics are easier to diagnose than anorexics, asthey are not hungry during assessment, and depression is also noticed. In orderfor bulimia to be classified, certain criteria must be met, including the foodbinge must be ingested within a two-hour time frame, terminated by sleep, socialinterruption, abdominal pain, or self-induced vomiting, and the episodes mustoccur at least twice a week for over three months.
Bulimia is most often causedby problems in dieting. A person who goes off the diet and binges may purge torelieve himself from the guilt because of it. Bulimia most often occurs in thelate teens to early twenties (Worsnop 1100).The severity of the illness varies with the individual and the length of timethat the illness has progressed.
A bulimic binge may be anywhere from a simpleice cream cone to ten thousand calories in a two-hour time span. Purging is therelief for most bulimics. Because they tend to repress anger, insecurity,anxiety, and cannot handle stress very well, purging feels as though they arebeing cleansed of stress as well as food. Once a person realizes she can eatanything and not gain weight, she becomes caught in a binge-purge cycle that canlast for years. Bulimia, for some, is a way of feeling totally out of controlone minute, and then expressing total control the next.
Symptoms of bulimia arenot always easy to recognize. They are difficulty swallowing and retaining food,swollen and infected salivary glands, damage to the esophagus, burst bloodvessels in the eyes, and tooth decay and loss of enamel (Epstein 66).Therapists suggest that stuffing the food down symbolizes trying to filloneself with all the things one lacks, such as love, self-esteem, and control;but purging illustrates getting rid of the guilt and unhappiness she feels abouther life. One therapist sees the binge-purge cycle as a way of acting out herlife: Taking rules and definitions of others as guiding principles in herlife, and then purging the fact that she cannot tolerate them and embrace themas her own (Mathews 45). Clearly, bulimia is a devastating illness, but it isnot the most common eating disorder.
The most common eating disorder is compulsive over-eating. Also known asbinge eating, this eating disorder is similar to bulimia, except that the foodis retained. Compulsive over-eating, or binge eating is believed to be the mostcommon eating disorder. About 10% of compulsive over-eaters are obese.Compulsive over-eating causes stress on the body, resulting in hypertension,high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.Bingeing is a relief from reality.
It is a way to nurture disappointments asopposed to facing them. Despite large quantities of food consumed in a binge,the over-eater may suffer from nutritional shortcomings, as mainly junk food isbinged. Teens who are compulsive over-eaters are often depressed, sociallyisolated, and have a low self-esteem. 60% of the cases are women, but noevidence of likelihood in ethnic groups. Depression is a common symptom, and insome cases, is the main cause. Binge-eaters should seek help from apsychiatrist, as the disorder is often a result in lacking in coping skills.Symptoms of binge eating include: eating more rapidly than usual, eating untiluncomfortably full, eating large amounts when not physically hungry, eatingalone because of embarrassment of the quantities of food consumed, and not beingable to purge after consuming large quantities of food (Dobie 1).
Because it isnot always recognized as an eating disorder, compulsive over-eating may have themost adverse effects on health.Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive over-eating are extremelyserious illnesses that must be recognized before they can be treated. The mediais blamed for so many distorted images of the body. People are beginning torefuse the idea, however, that thinner is better. Body shapes are known to go inand out of style. In the 1800s, plumpness was a sign of wealth and class.Thinness became a sign of beauty in the 1970s with the British super-modelTwiggy.
There are many treatments for eating disorders today. One of the hopesof many psychologists is that humans will begin to feel happy about the way theyare, even if it is a little bigger than the media portrays as ideal.Works CitedClaypool, Jane. Food Trips and Traps; Coping With Eating Disorders. Watts,1983.Dobie, Michael.
Losing Weight, Losing Lives. Newsday, 28 December 1982,SIRS Researcher CD-ROM.Epstein, Rachel. Eating Habits and Disorders.
Philadelphia, Chelsea house,1990.Kolodny, Nancy J. When Foods a Foe; How to Confront and Conquer EatingDisorders. Little Brown, 1987.
Mathews, John R. Little Brown, 1987.Mathews, John R. Eating Disorders: Facts on File. 1991Recognizing Eating Disorders. Current Health 2, Highland Park, December2000, Vol.
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Silverson, Alvin. So You Think Youre Fat? All About Obesity, Anorexia,Bulimia, and other Eating Disorders. New York, 1993.What Are Eating Disorders? March 1999, 25 January 2001. http://my.
webmd.com/content/article11680.50411.Worsnop, Richard I. Eating Disorders, CQ Researcher, Vol.
2, Issue 47;1097-1120. Washington D.C., Congressional Quarterly Inc., 18 December 1992.Category: Psychology