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An eating disorder is a serious disruption of a persons eating habits, it some cases it may be a reflection of abnormal psycho

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An eating disorder is a serious disruption of a persons eating habits, in some cases it may be a reflection of abnormal psychological functioning. The two most common eating disorders are, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa. Both of these eating disorders are  most common among adolescent girls, but they do occur amongst older people and are becoming more and more frequent amongst men. Also they were originally only found in European countries but are becoming more common all over the world.

Anorexia nervosa

This is a disorder where the person fears that they might become overweight. (despite being seriously underweight) therefore they engage in self starving to try to prevent this from happening.

Bulimia nervosa

This is a disorder in which the person will engage in episodes of uncontrollable eating “bingeing” which is then followed by self indulged vomiting, “purging”.  People who have bulimia have abnormal concerns with body size and a morbid fear of being or becoming fat.

Characteristics of anorexia

There are four listed criteria for anorexia


This is a key characteristic of anorexia. The anxiety associated with the disorder and the excessive fear of becoming fat. People who have anorexia not only become obsessed with weight but they also become fearful of weight gain.


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more mature and likely to be sexually activemore likely to have been in conflict with family pre-disorder

Many people who have eating disorders show the same behaviors

restricted calorie intake individuals often set themselves extremely unrealistic targets such as 300 calories.

Fear of eating many people develop an extremely unhealthy fear of eating, often people complain of nightmares related to food

Cessation of eating this provides comfort and gives a feeling of control, described as “those old comfy habits”

A sense of being out of control not eating makes the person feel like they’re in control

Excessive exercise some people with anorexia have been known to exercise for 8 hours a day.

Low self-esteem many feel like they’re not beautiful, and have the desire to look like a model. Many don’t take compliments very well. When someone says they look nice a person with anorexia wouldn’t believe them.

Hiding weight loss many will hide the fact that they’ve lost so much weight, by methods such as wearing baggy clothes and they get irritated when questioned about their eating.

The cause of these eating disorders is unclear however many studies have been done to try and determine the reason for their occurrence.

Some data has shown that eating disorders may be genetic, it could be down to a combination of nature and nurture. Holland et al.

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        Both groups of participants showed very similar responses to the neutral scene, but different responses to the weight gain scene. The group with bulimia showed higher physiological activity when imagining the weight gain. They also reported greater subjective distress and their overt behavior was rated as being higher.

        These findings supported the theory that fear of weight gain may be a factor in bulimia. Such faulty perceptions could trigger biological responses and a behavioral cycle of reinforcements. If someone fears weight gain, ho or she diets and starvation leads to changes in neurotransmitters. If an individual starts losing weight and dieting then this leads to an increased attention and attractiveness, encouraging further weight control.

        The found concept of faulty cognitions may also offer a form of treatment for the disorder. By dealing with the fear of weight gain itself. It may also offer methods of detecting people at risk of developing bulimia.

        It may also be that certain characteristics co-vary with a persons faulty perceptions. E.g. a person, who has maladaptive assumptions, may also have a more rigid cognitive style. It could therefore be this rigid cognitive style rather then the faulty perceptions that causes bulimia.

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