Anorexia in Adolescence
Felicia N. Hill
Columbus Technical College
This paper was prepared for Introductory Psychology 1101 taught by Professor Cyrus.
Bizarre, devastating, and baffling are three words that describe the anorexia nervosa disease. By definition, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a normal-weight person diets and becomes significantly underweight, yet, still feeling fat, continue to starve themselves. People with this disorder are suppressing a strong desire to eat, because they are afraid of becoming fat. Anorexia is characterized by extreme starvation that leads to a disastrous loss of weight. Anorexia nervosa affects a large ...view middle of the document...
In the United States, Levine (1987) analyzed the prevalence of eating disorders and discovered that between 1 and 6 of every 200 girls will develop Anorexia Nervosa between the ages of 12 and 20. Considering the number of teenage girls in a high school, this statistic seems very significant. The first step to understanding Anorexia Nervosa in adolescence is to understand what this diagnosis really means and what the adolescent is experiencing. Anorexia Nervosa consists of two different types or versions of anorexics which are the restricting type and the binge-eating/purging type. Simply restricting food entirely, the restricting type of anorexic does not engage in any binge-eating or purging activity but eliminates food intake from their life. The binge-eating and purging type means that the anorexic individual has had episodes of binging and purging between episodes of restricting food or refusing to eat (Grothaus, 1998). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an adolescent diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa usually experiences a refusal to gain weight, an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even though they are underweight, and a distorted self or body image (Grothaus, 1998). The typical anorexic profile includes the diagnosed adolescent to usually be female, between the ages of 11 and 18 and generally in an emaciated state with noticeable weight loss. In a state of severe denial, the adolescent will believe that she is fat and will appear to be depressed (Grothaus, 1998). Experiencing all the changes of puberty going on in adolescence can be a dramatic time for the adolescent in which their bodily and emotional experiences are altered. The angst that results from such changes is understandably elevated in the adolescent with a distorted body image and preoccupations with size and shape. Anorexia Nervosa serves to slow down or reverse these threatening changes due to its dramatic weight loss and provides the adolescent with a sense of feeling protected from such pressures (2006). This eating disorder almost becomes a way out to the adolescent.
Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa are a serious health problem among adolescents and an interest in this population has significantly increased over the past few decades. Although a specific cause for Anorexia among adolescents has not been pinpointed, several causes for the development of this eating disorder have been found and studied which include problems with self-image, family issues and media influence. A leading cause for Anorexia Nervosa in adolescents is the image of “female slenderness that has been imposed on women by society through the media and by the economy (Rothblum, 1994). All throughout newspapers, magazines and television is images of women who are thin and are selling women’s clothing and beauty products which is portrayed to be the magical answer to happiness and success. These images place a false ideal in the minds of...