A Brief Analysis of Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder that cannot be accounted for by the existence of any known physical disease. As Davison and Neale (1990) have pointed out, the primary population suffer from this disorder is compose of young females, generally adolescents. Such women often exhibit low levels of self-esteem, fear of eating, a sense of being larger physically than they actually are, and a drive toward perfectionism. This brief report will describe the theories that have emerged regarding the nature and etiology of anorexia nervosa, the different theoretical perspectives on this problem, the dynamics of the family as they relate to this problem, and various therapeutic interventions that have met with some success in treating this population.
Davison and Neale (1990) have described the problem as symptomatically manifested in terms of severe weight loss, absence of menstruation, the presence of manic energy levels, a growth of a downy hair covering over the body, and an obsessed attitude toward food in all its forms. An article by Riggotti, et al. (1991) reported that women who have prolonged states of advanced anorexia, in spite of treatment and an overall improvement in their body weight profile, tend to suffer in later life from osteoporosis. Davison and Neale (1990) have found that for many anorexics, long-term physiological problems related to the original anorexic state are commonplace; as many as 5% of all anorexics will die from conditions directly related to the disorder, while another 25% of all anorexics can be characterized as long-term sufferers with symptoms that last as long as several years.
Coleman (1988) has pointed out that the etiology of anorexia nervosa is viewed by psychologists as still uncertain. He favors the psychogenic approach; in this context, he points out that sensitivity of the female menstrual cycle to emotional factors and stress i...