Anorexia NervosaIn American society women are given the message starting from a very young agethat in order to be successful and happy, they must be thin. Eating disordersare on the rise, it is not surprising given the value which society places onbeing thin.
Television and magazine advertising that show the image of glamorousand thin model are everywhere. Thousands of teenage girls are starvingthemselves daily in an effort to attain what the fashion industry considers tobe the ideal figure. An average female model weighs 23% less than therecommended weight for a woman. Maintaining a weight 20% below your expectedbody weight fits the criteria for the emotional eating disorder known asanorexia (Pirke & Ploog, 1984). According to medical weight standards, mostmodels fit into the category of being anorexic (Garfinkle & Garner, 1990).Order now
Physicians now believe that anorexia has existed for at least 300 years (Pirke& Ploog, 1984). It was however only about one hundred years ago thatProfessor Ernest Lasegue of the University of Paris finally identified anorexiaas an illness (Pirke & Ploog, 1984). The term “anorexia nervosa”literally means nervous lose of appetite. Most researchers and physicians agreethat the number of patients with this life threatening disease is increasing atan alarming rate. Garfinkle & Garner define anorexia as ?an emotionaldisorder characterized by an intense fear of becoming obese, lack of self-esteemand distorted body image which results in self-induced starvation (1990).
Thedevelopment of this disease generally peaks between the age of 14 to 18 but canoccur later in life and is not uncommon to see it in women in to their early 40`s. Recent estimates suggest that 1% of American girls between this age span willdevelop anorexia to some degree (Garfinkle & Garner, 1990). It has alsopropagated in many college campuses, and it is spreading. Studies have shownthat nearly 20% of college women may suffer from anorexia or bulimia (Pirke& Ploog, 1984). The disease develops slowly over a period of months to yearsduring which the sufferer changes her eating patterns to a very restricted diet. As stated previously above, an anorexic is diagnosed by having a body weight 20%below the expected body weight of a healthy person at the same age and height ofthe eating disorder patient.
The anorexic may often becomes frightened ofgaining weight and even of food itself. The patient may feel fat, even thoughtheir body weight is well below the normal weight for their height. Some mayeven feel they do not deserve pleasure out of life and will deprive themselvesof situations offering pleasure, including eating. This fear becomes sodifficult to manage that the sufferer will gradually isolate themselves fromother people and social activities. This happens so the sufferer can continuethe exhausting anorexic behaviors. Although the mortality rate is high (30% ofanorexics will eventually die from the disease), approximately one third areable overcome the disease with psychiatric help (Pirke & Ploog, 1984).
Warning signs to look for in someone you suspect of anorexia. Physical signs areintolerance of cold due to the absence of the body`s natural insulator (fat),dizziness and fainting spells, dry skin, loss of muscle, and the most obvious, aweight loss of about fifteen percent. There are also behavioral changes in aperson when they becomes anorexic including restricted food intake, odd foodrituals, an increased fear of food, hyperactivity, dressing in layers, andregular weighing. Some “odd food rituals” include things like cuttingfood into small pieces, counting bites or even talking to their food. Anorexicsare not repelled or revolted by food, in fact their minds are often dominated bythoughts of food. While the exact cause of anorexia is still unknown, acombination of psychological, environmental, and physiological factors isassociated with the development of this disorder (Cove, 1998).
The most commoncause of anorexia in a woman is an incorrect self-perception of her weight. Anorexics feel as if they are heavier than the others around them, and believethe quickest way to lose weight is to simply stop eating. Anorexia survivorNanett Pearson (Miss Utah 1996) explains I became obsessed with body image. Ikept journals and in one pathetic passage I described how I went for sixteendays on water, and only about two glasses a day (1998). At first, this methodmay seem to work and the subject loses weight, but their bodies will soon adjustto the lack of food it learns to use the