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Kirk King

on 24 October 2013

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Transcript of Anorexia

Psychological Model of Anorexia Nervosa
Biological Causes of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa:
Perinatal Factors and the Risk of Developing Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa:

Overview of eating disorders today
: http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/key-research-a-statistics
Eating disorder statistics
: http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/
By Kirk King
Prenatal Factors
Based on international data, the lifetime prevalence for
females is between .3% and 1.5%
, and between
0.1% and 0.5% in males

Females in a
family which has a member with an eating disorders are more likely
then average women to develop an eating disorder themselves

Males who have a female twin are almost as likely
to develop anorexia as normal females

idealization of slimness and derogation of fatness
in cultures of abundance
is more intense for females
than for males (Striegel-Moore 1993, 1997).
Inherited Factors
half the risk
of developing this (anorexia) eating disorder
is inherited
It is hypothesized that part of the genetic predisposition to anorexia could lie in
female sex hormones
. A Swedish study found that
males with a female twin are almost as likely to develop anorexia as normal females
likely because of their
exposure to female sex hormones in the womb
Parental disorders
(such as eating disorders like anorexia) are often
passed on to their children
in part through an environmental, yet genetically intertwined fashion
Constitutional Vulnerability
(Biological Factors)
People who have eating disorders present a cognitive aberration, which means that this person can present obsessive thoughts about a certain subject, thoughts that are not certain to reality, and rigid trains of thought. In the case of anorexia, they use these thoughts as a way of controlling what they eat, making themselves obsessed with their food and their figure.
Thoughts and Mental Processes (Cognitive Factors)
(Biological Factors)
Stress (Socio-Cultural Factors)
Walker-Tessner Model
ventromedial and lateral hypothalamus
have been shown to govern eating behavior
When the
ventromedial hypothalamus
is stimulated eating behavior stops (one feels satisfied)
lateral hypothalamus
, when stimulated, correlates to eating behavior
Damage to either of these regions causes the
set point
(the "default" "healthy" body weight that your body tries to maintain) to be altered therefore changing eating behavior
Decreasing the level of
in the
ventromedial hypothalamus
of rats was correlated with their exhibiting
anorexic type behaviors
(low rate of eating, increase their rate of activity, reduce their carbohydrate intake, and rebound with overeating)
Serotonin, Norepinephrine,
and Dopamine
, and
have all been found to exist at abnormal levels in individuals with
Experiments done with lab animals show that when
is released into either the

, eating is stopped and
In other words:
An increase of serotonin causes one to eat less
Lack of serotonin most of the time causes obesity
A study using human subjects concluded that "impaired central nervous system serotonergic responsiveness may contribute to the onset or maintenance of abnormal eating patterns"
In other words: these researchers
linked serotonin to feelings of well being and being satisfied
A carbohydrate-rich diet causes the body to convert the sugars, through a multi-step process, into tryptophan which is the precursor of serotonin.
Abnormal levels of
exist in a person with anorexia
seems to produce effects similar to those of
, in terms of causing
feelings of being satisfied and reducing hunger
Anorexic patients may have overactive serotonerigic response centers, leading to a need to reduce the levels of serotonin in their brains by restricting their food intake. Excessive levels of serotonin are correlated with a nervous, jittery feeling. Self-starvation may be an attempt to rid the body of this uncomfortable feeling.

Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression which is a commonly concurrent disorder in people with eating disorders.
Both eating disorders and depression can be seen as disorders that occur when the I-function, a sense of self, is not in agreement with external reality. A person suffering from anorexia feels they are overweight when in fact they are underweight (anorexia)
As neurons communicate by neurotransmitters an aberrant neurotransmitter system could affect the I-function, and therefore self perception. Possible reasons for a faulty neurotransmitter system range from genetic to environmental influences.
Serotonin (cont'd)
Females are about
3 times more likely
to develop anorexia than males
Predisposition to anorexia could lie in
female sex hormones
Eating disorders
tend to be passed down
from parents to their children

Gentetic and prenatal disposition to anorexia alone does not guarantee the development
of this disorder.
Environmental factors greatly
influence the probability of development.
Cognative functions that are related to Anorexia Nervosa
Economic Class
Eating disorders like anorexia are most common among upper and middle class women.
While people of any economic class may have a genetic predisposition toward anorexia, certain environmental conditions may cause the disorder to manifest itself; environmental conditions that may be more present in upper and middle classes

Mothers and fathers who constantly worry or comment about their daughter's (or son's) beauty an weight provide a risky environment for disorders such as anorexia to present itself. These conditions tend to be more present in environments of higher economic class

The greater abundance of food in higher economic classes could also affect eating disorder tendencies (see culture)
About half of anorexia sufferers have been sexually abused or experienced some other major trauma
Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression
An obsession with slimness—a core feature of eating disorders—is concentrated in cultures in which food is abundant.

In cultures of scarcity, the ideal body shape is much more likely to be rotund, suggesting that ideals tend toward what is difficult to achieve.
of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to
lose weight because of magazine pictures.
of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that
magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
of 1st-3rd grade girls
want to be thinner
(Collins, 1991).
of 10 year olds are
afraid of being fat
(Mellin et al., 1991).
Statistics (America)
media containing idealized images of men and women
does correlate with developing eating disorders, however it is not a cause. In fact, people with already low body dissatisfaction are more attracted to this type of media

Body dissfaction is a precursor to anorexia nervosa
, and is fostered by the media
Tiggemann & Pickering (1996, p. 202) noted upon discovering that among girls, body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness were associated with increased exposure to certain types of TV shows, “although it is tempting to conclude that watching a large dose of thin idealized images on television leads to dissatisfaction with one’s body, a correlation cannot determine causality. An alternative scenario, for example, might be that those most dissatisfied with their bodies or wishing to be thinner, seek out or are more interested in particular types of television.”
Interpersonal Relationships
Adolescent girls learn certain attitudes
(i.e., the importance of slimness)
and behaviors
(i.e., dieting, purging)
from their peers, both by example and encouragement and by way of teasing for failure to adhere to peer norms.
Adolescent female friendship cliques tend to be homogenous with respect to body-image concerns, suggesting direct peer influence
Cliques do not necesarily influence their members so much as “recruit” them on the basis of shared concerns
Families (and friends) often praise anorexia nervosa patients’ slenderness, and envy the self-control and discipline required to achieve it
This does not CAUSE anorexia as much as it perpetuates it
Families of patients with anorexia tend to negate the emotional needs of the patient (being hostile, intrusive, etc.). So much so that some suggest that for treatment to be truly effective, one must treat the whole family
Adolescents who perceive family communication, parental caring and expectations as low are at increased risk. So are adolescents with coercivley controlling parents.
Mothers that have or have had eating disorders tend to behave in a manner that encourages unhealthy eating practices in their children, especially daughters.
50% of children of mothers with eating disorders have psychiatric disorders
Also linked to
Anorexia Nervosa:
Teasing (especially about one's weight)
Large amount of stress and difficulties
Suppressed anger
Obsessive thoughts
: obsessing over food/weight/image/their body/etc. -> 74% of ED patients spent more than 3 hours/day on obsessional thoughts; 42% spent more than 8 hours/day. About 20% of the patients admitted that these thoughts are comforting and did not wish to stop
: the belief that one must be perfect -> making normal shortcomings more traumatic or by making a normal body a sign of imperfection
: used to escape unpleasant realities
Cognitive Style
: Eating disorder patients display evidence of abnormal cognitive style (information processing) -> Patients with anorexia nervosa tend to engage in unnecessary all-or-nothing thinking, leading to them regarding themselves as failures after minor infractions
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