Psychosocial Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

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What role do psychological and social factors play in the cause of anorexia? Amanda Watson Edith Cowan University Abstract Anorexia is an eating disorder where an individual engages in an relentless pursuit to be thin, engaging in deliberate starvation which can often be fatal, resulting in death (Bruch, 1973). Anorexia nervosa is an illness, not a choice, and other psychological disorders may occur along with anorexia, including depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Bruch, 1973). Influences of the media and enmeshment of family dynamics are found to be precursors of development of the disorder (Bruch, 1973). "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV -TR defines anorexia nervosa using the following criteria, including a refusal to maintain body weight above 15% below that which is expected, an extreme fear of weight gain, despite being significantly underweight, a disturbance in body image such as feeling fat, even though the individual is underweight, and in females amenorrhea for at least three consecutive menstrual cycles". (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). What role do psychological and social factors play in the cause of anorexia nervosa? Individuals suffering from anorexia find it difficult to achieve self-esteem, asserting control and establishing a sense of identity ( Bruch, 1973). The anorexic's development becomes arrested, with their main focus of identity being focused on size and weight, which ultimately leads their life functions to diminish, with the prime focus of the anorexic being less focused on relationships and self-care (Bruch, 1973). The DSM -IV, American Psychiatric Association (2000), specifies two subtypes of anorexia, being the restricting and binge eating type. Binging and purging is not normally associated with the restricting type, whereas the binge

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