• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Eating disorders

Extracts from this document...


Eating disorders Introduction Eating Disorder: - A term that refers to a serious disruption of a person's eating habits or appetite and which may reflect a persons abnormal psychological functioning. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which the person despite being seriously underweight, fears that she or he might become obese and therefore engages in self starvation to prevent this happening. Bulimia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder in which a person habitually engages in episodes of uncontrollable eating (known as bingeing, followed by self induced vomiting or other compensatory behaviours (purging). People with bulimia have an abnormal concern with body size and a morbid fear of becoming fat. Both Anorexia and Bulimia are most common in adolescent girls, but they do occur in older individuals and are also becoming increasingly frequent in men. They are also more common in European countries, but again incidence is increasing elsewhere. Clinical characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa Anxiety: A key characteristic of anorexia is the anxiety associated with the disorder and excessive fear of being fat. People with anorexia are not simply obsessed with weight but fearful of weight gain. ...read more.


When stress dies down, appetite should return to normal but it is possible that this does not happen to people with anorexia because they lack the hormone to switch the appetite back on (called AVP). A key characteristic of anorexia is that people with the disorder can resist the need to eat, and this explanation accounts for this. Biochemical factors as a cause or effect of anorexia nervosa - The starvation hypothesis suggests that neurotransmitter and hormone disorders are a consequence rather than a cause of emotional distress. Fichter and Pirke (1995) starved normal individuals, which caused changes in neurotransmitter and hormone levels, supporting the view that starvation causes the changes rather than vice versa. it may be that, once starvation is under way, this leads to changes that then become symptoms of the disorder. The Psychodynamic approach Freud suggested that eating was a substitute for sexual activity. Therefore, not eating was a way to repress sexual thoughts and the onset of sexual maturity. Starvation in adolescence is also a means of avoiding the development of an adult's body. Restricted food intake prevents menstruation and development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts and enlarged hips. ...read more.


Whereas decreased serotonin activity may be responsible for bulimia. (Galla, 1995). This makes sense because people with bulimia overeat and then feel guilty because of the desire to be thin. An increased consumption of Carbohydrates increases the production of serotonin. This has lead to the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of bulimia. Serotonin either predisposes an individual to develop bulimia, or perpetuates the disorder, or both. Individuals with bulimia may diet because they cannot trust their own physical self-regulators, which sets a vicious cycle in motion leading to related emotional changes that perpetuate and result in abnormal eating behaviours. Neuroanatomy As with anorexia, the hypothalamus plays a role in bulimia. Damage to the hypothalamus can result in overeating or undereating. In animals damage to the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) results in overeating. This happens because the lateral hypothalamus (LH) stimulates eating and the VMH is damages, there is no sense of satiety and overeating occurs, which may result in obesity. In an individual who wishes to be thin, overeating is controlled as far as possible but may then result in excessive binge, which further results in compensation through purging. Serotonin is linked to this process because it helps to regulate the feeding centers of the hypothalamus. Low levels of serotonin stimulate the LH. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the main approaches - Biological and Behaviourist, biological and cognitive, ...

    4 star(s)

    The cognitive approach has been applied successfully in therapy. As one of the core assumptions of the cognitive approach is that mental processes influence our behaviour, therefore if these processes are irrational this can lead to psychological problems. Therapy, such as RET, aims to replace these irrational thoughts with more positive ones.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Classical and Operant Conditioning

    3 star(s)

    Marital counselling was recommended to her, which succeeded where Systematic Desensitisation had failed. One therapy that is used through Operant Conditioning is Token Economy. Operant Conditioning is making a conscious association with the consequences of a behaviour e.g. behaviour that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated.

  1. Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

    The psychodynamic model is described as being determinist- individual's have little involvement in the development of their own personality. This is because psychological development is influenced by an individual's relationship with their parents in early childhood. The abnormal behaviour is believed to be derived from unconscious conflicted, related to innate and biological drives.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss the range of methods available to the psychologist.

    This controls the experimenter bias and interviewer effects. Sampling techniques refer to the way in which groups of participants are chosen and samples are the group of participants that are involved in a psychologists study. It is very important in how the participants are selected for the studies, as psychologists are always trying to gain a representative sample.

  1. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are becoming a major problem ...

    Cultural relativism is the view that there cannot be one definition of abnormality because every society is different and what may seem strange to one person may seem normal to another. This can be related to eating disorders because within certain cultures, specifically western societies at the moment, eating disorders

  2. Eating Disorders

    It begins when an individual is dieting and their slimness receives admiration, therefore the response(admiration) is attached to the idea of what was a neutral stimulus(slimness) and there is an association between thinness and admiration. Stage 2 is the when process of operant conditioning takes place.


    With positive punishment unfavourable events or outcomes are given in order to weaken the response that follows an example if you stroke a cat in a manner that the cat finds unpleasant, the cat may attempt to bite you therefore the presentation of the cat's bite will act as a

  2. Explanations of Successful and Failed Dieting

    It has been suggested that motivation is a prime factor in determining success in dieting as well as financial incentives and social support. Financial incentives are intended as a form of positive reinforcement creating, by operant conditioning, the desired weight-loss effect.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work