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Anorexia

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Anorexia

It seemed to me that the older I got, the more obsessed people seemed about their

bodies. Whether it was the diet soda boom of the 80's, or the fact everyone has always

been unhappy with his or her natural bodies; it just took me a while to comprehend. It always seemed like there were diets here, diets there; these drugs can do this, or

these herbs can do that... "Stop the insanity!" This paper is going to discuss anorexia nervosa, an alarming disease that is usually developed during puberty of both boys and girls. Like bulimia, in which the subject binges and then disposes of ingested food by purging or use of laxatives, those suffering anorexia nervosa have an obsession with the amount

of fat on her body (although one of every ten suffering this disease are male, I

will use the female pronoun since they are the majority). This results in the

loss of appetite completely and dangerous weight loss. More than thirty years

ago one of this century's major sex symbols sang, "Happy Birthday, Mr.

President," on television. With her size fourteen to sixteen figure, it is doubtful

that society's standards would approve Marilyn Monroe today. Back in those

days men and women alike ate what tasted good or what the body needed

and simply bought clothes that would hide any unwanted weight gain. Today

the story is different. Psychologists that study the influence of television on

children say that television is the most influential medium in our "visually

orientated" society (Velette, 1988, p.3). With the influence of television and

celebrity role models, children don't care that they see a variety of sizes

outside of their home, what they care about are the majority of people shown

on the television set, perfect. Teenagers have typically watched 15,000 hours

of television in their lifetime (Valette, 1988, p.4), absorbing the opinions on

the shows or the commercials burning into their retinas. The message

transmitted: "To be successful, beautiful, popular, and loved you must be thin,

you must be thin, you must be THIN." After a lifetime of hearing this message

over and over and over again, children may not think there is any reason to

be happy with what they are and feel thinness is the ultimate goal to be happy

and accepted by others. As a result, some children may skip breakfast, eat a

little for lunch, or even adopt some form of diet. This may only last for a

week or so, but for others, the obsession of thinness is higher and the price

they pay is frightening. This paper is going to discuss the cycles of anorexia

nervosa. It will detail the symptoms, behavior, and clinical observations. It

will describe the possible causes of anorexia nervosa through childhood

growth and puberty, childhood eating and social behavior, and the maturation

of children during puberty. Finally, I will discuss the treatment and results of

treatment for anorexia nervosa. Before diving into the details of anorexia

nervosa, there are a few individual traits that may appear in a person that may

have an eating disorder: low self-esteem, feelings of ineffectiveness or

perfectionism, issues of control, and fear of maturation. The more physical

description is chilling. The anorectic victim does not look "thin" as society's

standards portray, but are in fact a walking skeleton with the absence of

subcutaneous fat. Her weight may range from as little as 56-70 pounds or

77-91 pounds. Though clothes are likely to cover most of her figure, her face

appears gaunt and her skin is cold and red or blue in color. Do to the lack of

fat in her body, her menstrual cycle is likely to have ceased. Despite these

conditions, she still sees herself overweight and thus unacceptable. Thinness is

idealism and perfection. It is her independent choice that no one else can take

away from her. At the beginning of anorexia nervosa the subject will first

change her diet, restricting how much she eats and usually cutting out starchy

foods. Seventy-percent of a particular study claimed they were simply

dieting. The rest used excuses of abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, or

simply a lack of appetite (Dally, 1979, p.14). Those dieting had innocent

intentions at first, even the approval of family members or peers, but as they

reached their target weight the dieting did not slow down. In some cases it

only became more intense. Hunger does not just disappear into thin air. There

is a long and hard battle against stomach pains, sometimes resulting in lapses.

However, the guilt or disgust felt from giving into the temptation of food

results in more willpower for resisting food in the future. The process of

eliminating hunger usually takes up to a year (Dally, 1979, p.14). Sometimes

hunger cannot be ignored. The girl will think about food all day long as

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