Anorexia - Abnormal Psychology

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Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal Psychology.
For this assignment I have chosen a patient ‘Mary’ who was diagnosed with ‘Anorexia Nervosa’, from a clinical placement, on an adult acute ward. In order for me to ensure confidentiality has/will be maintained throughout the assignment I have used an assumed name for my selected patient as well as keeping the trust anonymous. The assignment is divided into several different sections, the first part will be a description of the disorder, the second section will examine the different key concepts of models appropriate for the disorder, following with the available treatments for this disorder. Throughout the assignment I will provide relevant examples from clinical practice which will draw up the relevance with my chosen patient.

Anorexia nervosa is a condition where a person has an pre-occupation with food and body image to the extreme. It is a complex mental health illness and many factors contribute to the cause of it. People who suffer with anorexia have problems with eating, this is due to being anxious about how much they weigh. They keep their weight as low as possible and do so by strictly controlling and limiting themselves to what they can eat. Mary explained to us while she stayed on the ward that she would starve herself to loose weight as she felt fat and overweight, feared the any thought of becoming fat and just wanted to assure herself that she could stay thin. Once explaining to Mary that she was already thin in fact highly underweight she still continued to work towards loosing weight. (NHS 2009) helps to explain to us that people with anorexia are obsessed with food, eating and calories. Sometimes they try to get rid of food from their body, for example, by making themselves vomit. Anorexia can affect anyone. Anorexia can be a serious condition. Starving yourself affects every part of your body and can lead to health problems. If anorexia is not treated, these problems can become severe and even life-threatening. Anorexia is more common in women and girls. It can also affect men and boys. Anorexia usually develops over time. (NHS 2009) states ‘It most commonly starts in the mid-teens. In teenagers and young adults, the condition affects about 1 in 250 females and 1 in 2000 males.’

A variety of psychological, genetic, biological, developmental and societal factors may contribute to becoming anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is unusually explained by a single mechanism, there are a number of different theories which have been put together to explain the origins of the disorder. Below I have briefly discussed some of these theories and how they may relate to Mary.

A theoretical model is the family system model which often contributes to at least part of the cause of anorexia. It comes from the failure of early parent-child interactions or the interference of the child’s development caused by the parent (Banks, 1992). According to this view, the patient's control of their food intake and body weight may serve as a mechanism for gaining a sense of identity which the person was unable to do as a child.

Another theoretical model is the feminist model. (MacSween 1995) argues that anorexia sufferers may feel powerless, believing that as a result of being female, their identity is largely seen through their appearance. One more approach to this is looking at the biological models. Rosen, (1996) and Tozzi & Bulik, (2003) helps us to understand that many people believe that anorexia sufferers have a biological reason for developing an eating disorder and it often happens when faced with environmental triggers. Although genetic research on anorexia is relatively young, family and twin studies have pointed to the heritability of anorexia, with estimates between 33% and 84% reported.

Other biological models have suggested that anorexia is related to (and perhaps even caused by) abnormalities in mechanisms regulating hormone output, often focussing on...
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