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Psychological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa

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Danielle Weston

on 29 May 2013

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Transcript of Psychological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa

Neural, Evolution, Behavioural and Cognitive Psychological and Biological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa Behavioural explanations Classical and Operant conditioning Cognitive Explanations Irrational beliefs, the way people think about themselves - in relation to eating disorders the individual believes they will not be valued unless they have an idea physical appearance repeat action attention received from being skinny reinforces dieting behaviour as a good thing associates being skinny with feeling good and therefore, continues the exercise and dieting Media learning via observing others behaviour imitated doesn't account for individual differences, in the west we are all exposed to thin models but not everyone develops an eating disorder Anorexia nervosa is only common in specific culture - industricalised, individualistic cultures (America, Britain, Europe, Australia) The American Psychiatric Association (1994) immigrants to America from countries where eating disorders are rare, are just as likely to develop eating disorders as those born in America this has been questioned as Anorexia nervosa has been identified in non western, non individualistic cultures and historically with 'Holy Anorexics' - clensing and purifying/take away sins by not eating Nasser (1986) Compared Egyptian women at a Uni in London and Cairo 12% of those in London developed eating disorders and none of the women in Cairo did Mumford (1991) challenged this, a study conducted in Bradford found that concerns about weight and body image were more prevalent in girls who wore Asian dress and used Asian languages Operant conditioning techniques have been shown effective in promoting weight gaining by positively reinforcing healthy eating in some anorexia sufferers Limited model - useful as a maintenance model (explaining how it is maintained) but not how it develops in the first place The model is not interested or concerned with the underlying emotional issues that are apparent in sufferers demonstrates the impact of the enviroment - SLT this is the only way they can fit in (behavioural) APPLICATION people with AN perceive themselves as unattractive and overweight - overweight people don't value themselves Bemis-vitousek and Orimoto (1993)
found a consistent pattern of distorted thinking in sufferers of anorexia Fairburn et al (1999)
interviewed people with eating disorders and compared them with people suffering from other psychiatric disorders 'perfectionism' and 'negative self evaluation' was identified as high risk factors for AN's compared results doesn't explain where the irrational thinking comes from in the first place may be the effect rather than the cause model has been helpful in developing therapies Psychodynamic Explanations Freud - believed that the origins of mental disorders lie in the unresolved conflicts of childhood which are unconscious Bruch (1979)
found many parents claimed to anticipate their children's needs rather then ever letting them 'feel' hungry

Button and Warren
found people with AN rely excessively on the opinions of others - worry about how others view them and feel a lack of control in their lives Other Risk Factors eating disorders develop in relation to adolescents struggle to gain a sense of individual identity anorexia is more usual in middle class families, therefore the 'pressure to succeed' may be a contributory factor Minuchin et al (1978)
suggested AN develops in relation to FAMILY CONFLICT
Adolescents may try to prevent family break up by diverting attention to themselves by stopping eating. AN may be a way of defusing conflict within the family. Biological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa
Neural explanation Changes in the nervous system are implicated in the development of AN
Disturbances in levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and Dopamine have been linked with the disorder Serotonin - Bailer
Compared serotonin activity in women recovering from restricting-type anorexia and binge-type with healthy controls - higher serotonin activity in women recovering from binging types
Highest levels of serotonin found in women who showed most anxiety - persistent distruption of serotonin may lead to increased anxiety - anorexia Dopamine - Kaye
PET scans taken of dopamine activity in the brain of 10 women recovering from AN and 12 healthy women
Over activity of dopamine in the brains of the AN women
Increased dopamine activity appears to alter how people interpret rewards - people with AN find it hard to associate good feelings with thing that most people find pleasureable - food Gender bias - most studies have focused upon women rather than men - hard to generalise Explaining a complex disorder such as AN with a single chemical is highly reductionist and overlooks important factors that may play a part like family functioning Deterministic - suggests that people will develop and recover from anorexia according to their biochemistry rather than own freewill Evolutionary Explanations The reproduction suppression hypothesis
Surbey - the desire of adolescent girls to control their weight represents an evolutionary adaptation to delay the onset of sexual maturity during periods when likelihood of reproductive success is low - females to avoid giving birth when conditions are not conductive for her offspring's survival The 'adapted to flee' hypothesis
Guisinger - symptoms of AN reflect the adaptive mechanisms that once caused migration in conditions of famine - anorexics suppress the thought of eating more food like ancestors in order to not feeling hungry when migrating to better environment Reductionist as it disregards the psychological factors that might play a part in the development of AN Increase in male anorexia cannot be explained by this theory Hard to falsify - cannot test evolution in a scientific manner How the symptoms might be passed on by natural selection - seeing as they decrease fertilisation and could kill individual An effective parent responds appropriately to their childs needs - an ineffective parent will simply feed their child when they cry - child may not be hungry just tried - comfort a hungry child - the child will become too reliant on their parents and become confused with their internal needs - not have accurate perception of hunger or satiety
During adolescence they need to establish autonomy - feel lack of control of their own body and develop abnormal eating habits
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