Anorexia Nervosa (Phychology)

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PSYCHOLOGY EXAM ESSAY PLAN
TWO OR MORE EXPLANATIONS FOR MENTAL DISORDERS

There are several approaches in psychology which attempt to explain mental disorders. The biological approach sees a mental disorder as a medical problem, it assumes mental illness to have a physical cause and the treatment offered is physical. Behavioural approach emphasise learned behaviour, its treatment is based on conditioning principles. New adaptive behaviours are learned. Other approaches which propose causes of mental disorders as psychological are psychodynamic and cognitive approaches. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

One illness that is classified as a mental disorder is Anorexia Nervosa. The main characteristics of this disorder are weight loss. It is less than 85% of what it should be for the person’s age, height and build. The person is always anxious about getting fat, even if they are underweight. They have a distorted body image- always feeling fat when they are thin. Absence of menstrual periods in female sufferers depending on ages can indicate anorexia. Several causes have been suggested for anorexia.

The biological approach assumes several possible causes of mental illnesses like anorexia. One of the causes is biochemical. An imbalance of neurotransmitters, like a low level of serotonin in people with anorexia- Fava et al (1989). Infection can also cause anorexia. There is a link between glandular fever and anorexia. The hypothalamus in the brain controls the release of hormones that regulate hunger. It has been suggested that the hypothalamus in anorexics is damaged. Holland et al (1988) investigated the possibility of genetics causing anorexia. He found that the concordance rates for monozygotic twins is 56% and dizygotic twins is 12%. The closer you are genetically to someone who has anorexia, the more likely you are to have the illness. The biological approach assumes mental disorder symptoms to have an underlying...
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