Anorexia Nervosa Synopsis

This essay has a total of 1100 words and 5 pages.

Anorexia Nervosa


Could you imagine being so afraid of food and the possibility of gaining weight that you
would actually starve yourself? Food and eating are pleasures of everyday life we take for
granted. Having the life of an Anorexic person fills you with the constant fear of one
thing….becoming fat.

Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa are slowly gripping a part of the female
adolescent to young adult population. Although, Anorexia Nervosa has only been public
since the 1970's, records of the disorder go back as far as 1689. Thomas Morton, an
English physician, studied subjects with a disorder he called the "wasting" disease. He
had two cases, which were very similar. One was an eight-teen yr. old girl and the other
was a six-teen yr. old boy. Both subjects had similar symptoms. They both had a strong
lack of appetite, sensitivity to coldness, and extreme sadness. The girl eventually
starved herself to death; however, the boy did recover (Gordon 12-13).

Through out the centuries there have been many cases of girls "fasting", and not due to
religious purposes. In the 1870's the disorder became a topic of more medical concern. It
happened around the time two doctors, Sir William Gull and Charles Lasegue, simultaneously
published papers on a number of cases dealing with self-starvation (Alexander-Mott
&Lumsden 101-102). Gull actually came up with the term Anorexia Nervosa, because he
believed it was a nervous disease. Both doctors note four distinctive characteristics with
each case. All of the patients experienced high levels of hyperactivity. Each of the
patients denied the existence of the disorder. Also, they each had peculiar attitudes
toward food. Finally, each patient had pathological family interactions (Gordon 13).

Years following Gull and Lasegue's discoveries, research continued on this peculiar
disorder. Unfortunately for a long period of time Anorexia was confused with Simmond's
Disease, an endocrine disorder. So, for awhile Anorexia sufferers were being prescribed
the wrong medications, such as thyroid extracts (Gordon 14). Finally, in the 1930's the
two disorders were distinguished between.

In 1973 a woman who trained in psychoanalysis, named Bruch, wrote a book on eating
disorders. Bruch had previously worked for three decades with Anorexic and obese patients.
She observed that Anorexics had three main characteristics. The first was a distorted body
image, a misperception of fat. The second was the inability to identify needs,
particularly hunger, but also the whole range of emotions. The last characteristic was a
feeling of ineffectiveness, lack of self-worth (Matthews 30).

From Bruch's characteristics stemmed the guidelines brought forth by the American
Psychiatric Association (APA). The first guideline was the refusal to maintain normal body
weight. The second was an intense fear of gaining weight. The third was a distorted body
image. Then the last characteristic was amenorrhea (Alexander-Mott & Lumsden 107).

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