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Societal Views Can Cause Death

October 2, 2012

Brandye Huggins

Professor Johnson

Eng 101c01


After reading the article about Anorexia, my views on how society affects the world changed completely. “Women constitute 90 percent of people diagnosed with eating disorders—eight million adolescent and young adult women in the United States alone. The majority of these are Caucasian (95 percent) and from middle to upper-middle-class backgrounds.”(Page 1, Scott and Piotrowski) Anorexia Nervosa [C1] is an extremely dangerous psychological disease that occurs predominantly in young women between the ages of 15 and 18, but can last for many years, even with treatment.

The disease is an eating disorder where the patient sees themselves as overweight or even obese.  There are two types of Anorexia Nervosa which includes extreme dieting and exercising known as Anorexia, and binging and purging which is known as Bulimia.  Although both types exist, Anorexia is the most common. Social influences as well as emotional or psychological triggers are found to be leading causes for the disease. The two types of treatment available for the disease are inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment.

Anorexia Nervosa can be caused by several different factors, but is mainly caused by social influences and psychological triggers. “The rising incidence of Anorexia is thought to reflect the idealization of thinness as a badge of upper-class status as well as of female beauty. In addition, the increase in cases of Anorexia includes so-called copycat behavior, with some patients developing the disorder from imitating other girls.” (Page 1, Newton and Tran) This is evident in today’s world where young females strive to look like models, dancers, and famous people from magazines or television. “Anorectics tend to be perfectionists who have unrealistic expectations about how they ‘should’ look and perform.”(Page 1, Davidson and Longe) This psychological factor was evident in the survey compilation where the patient described her obsession with being perfect. According to the roommate of the anorexic in the study, family dysfunction played a major role in her case.  Her father’s constant derogatory comments relative to her mother’s weight amplified her desire to stay extremely thin. Therefore, it is important that when raising young women today that the parents do not emphasize size, but rather healthy eating habits. Also it is important that we teach the young people that the socially desirable “size” is not always the perfect size.

Since Anorexia Nervosa is so common and so serious, there are many treatments and remedies, but the two main types of treatment are inpatient hospital treatment and outpatient treatment. According to research, there are two goals of inpatient treatment. “First, the patient is given the opportunity to eat on a more normal schedule. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to force-feed the patient. Second, he or she is provided with group or individual counseling.” (Page 1, Anorexia Nervosa) Outpatient treatment is used if the health issues are not as severe. In outpatient treatment, the patient sees the doctor and counselor at least three to five times a week until he/she reached a healthy weight and truly understands their disorder. If not treated, Anorexia can be a dangerous disease, sometimes resulting in death if not successfully treated. “Research indicates that eating disorders are one of the psychological problems least likely to be treated, and Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychosocial problems.” (Page 1, Pawlowski)

Overall, it is safe to say that this disease is a result of social misconceptions that lead to psychological issues, which consequently can be life threatening.  Therefore, it is important that society learns how to relate to teens in a more positive manner.  In a recent study for preventing eating disorders, the following emerged as primary prevention steps:

(1) Enhance parental support;

(2) Decrease weight and body talk;

(3) Provide a supportive home food environment;

(4) Model healthy eating habits and physical activity patterns;

(5) Help your children build self-esteem beyond looks and physical appearance;

(6) Encourage appropriate expression of feelings and use of coping mechanisms;

(7) Increase your understanding of eating disorder signs and symptoms;

(8) Gain support in dealing appropriately with your own struggles.

(Page 146, Loth, Neumark, and Croll)

In order to keep Anorexia Nervosa from becoming an epidemic, society needs to understand the repercussions of the disease and refocus the societal views of beauty.

 [C1]Link to define term

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