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Describe and evaluate two models of abnormality as explanations and treatment tools for anorexia.

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Introduction

´╗┐Describe and evaluate two models of abnormality as explanations and treatment tools for anorexia. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder and a mental health condition. Literally translated it means ?nervous lack of appetite?. A person suffering from anorexia has an intense fear of becoming overweight and thus employs strict controls over their intake of food. (Flanagan, 2000) There are guidelines of symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) that enable a diagnosis to be made on an individual suspected of suffering from anorexia. The DSM-iv classification of this disorder lists the following as symptoms of anorexia: The patient refuses to maintain a minimum body weight (e.g. 85% of expected weight for their age and height); the patient intensely fears becoming overweight despite being emaciated; self-perception of the body is abnormal i.e. the patient believes themselves to be overweight or denies the seriousness of their low weight; due to weight loss, a female patient has missed at least 3 consecutive periods, or periods occur only when she is given hormones. (Disorder Information Sheet, 2003) There are several psychological approaches that endeavour to explain the causes of eating disorders and offer appropriate treatment, such as the psychoanalytical model which states that the cause lies in childhood development and can be treated with family therapy. ...read more.

Middle

This research could lead to the development of the first drugs for the treatment of eating disorders, in a similar way that antidepressants treat chemical imbalances in people with depression. As depression occurs far more in those suffering from anorexia than in the general population, antidepressants are commonly used to help treat anorexia. Seretonin re-uptake inhibitors such as flouxetine have been shown to improve eating behaviour by reducing compulsions, depression and anxiety. Anti depressants however should not be used as the sole treatment of anorexia. (Wattula) The behavioural model views anorexia as a phobia of gaining weight and behaviourists believe that the disorder is the result of conditioning. Using the principles of classical conditioning, Leitenberg et al (Eysenck, 2005) believes that people suffering from anorexia may have learned to associate eating with anxiety because eating too much makes people overweight and unattractive. Their anxiety is reduced as their weight goes down and is then viewed as respite from an unpleasant stimulus. This behaviour may then be given positive reinforcement as the individual gains attention, or as they see that other people are admired for being slim, i.e. operant conditioning. Social learning theory assumes that anorexic behaviour is learned from observing role models and imitating their behaviour. ...read more.

Conclusion

It also helps to explain cultural differences but fails to elucidate why some women develop the disorder while others do not, as we are all exposed to the same media imagery. Conditioning theory can explain how the disorder is maintained through reinforcement but falls short on addressing the underlying causes of the condition. Fedoroff and McFarlane stated ?...culture is only one of many factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders... cultural factors can only be understood as they interact with the psychology and biology of the vulnerable individual... a culture cannot cause a disorder? (Gross, 2009, p. 800) In conclusion, it is apparent that no one model can fully explain the reasons an individual may develop an eating disorder or provide comprehensive and effective treatment for the condition. Anorexia is a multi determined disorder in that it is a combination of biological predisposition, family life and media influence, therefore a multi dimensional approach must be taken. Treatments are stronger and more effective when they are used together for example, a combination of behavioural and cognitive therapies address distorted thought patterns whilst shaping behaviours and responses. The most successful and effective treatments of Anorexia Nervosa are this style of combined therapies tailored to suit the individual sufferer. ...read more.

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