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Etiology of Anorexia Nervosa

Consensus is lacking as to the etiology of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that almost exclusively affects middle- and upper-class girls and young women in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and other postindustrial societies. Those who suffer from anorexia display a morbid fear of becoming overweight, spurred on by distorted body image, and severely restrict their intake of food, leading to numerous biomedical complications and frequently, if untreated, to starvation. Each of the three principal explanatory models--the biomedical, the psychological, and the cultural--supplies insights into the nature, prevalence, distribution, and causes of the disorder. But no one model can be shown to locate the ultimate cause of the disease and there is a growing conviction that aspects of all three models will form a part of any eventual demonstration of its etiology. It is, however, clear that anorexia occurs primarily at crucial points in female lives and, no matter which model predominates, the syndrome is understood to be intimately connected with development. A review of the principal theoretical models will demonstrate how they conceive of the connection between female development and anorexia. In tandem with the review a number of empirical studies that support certain aspects of each theory will also be discussed.

Discussions of anorexia nervosa frequently involve bulimia nervosa (commonly referred to as bingeing and purging) as well. Bulimia also features a morbid fear of gaining weight and the individual's body image is similarly distorted, although usually less severely than in anorexia. Bulimia also affects the same demographic group. This disorder often seemed to occur in conjunction with anorexia. But in the course of redefining the two diseases bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa were defined in the American Psychiatric Association's fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disord...

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Etiology of Anorexia Nervosa. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:41, May 28, 2020, from