Functionalist and Conflict Approach to Anorexia Nervosa

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Nevertheless, Jean felt fat, and at age 23 she decided to lose weight. ‘When I’m thin,’ she reasoned, ‘other people will want me around. At last, I will feel accepted and special.’ "That kind of foolish logic led to a twelve-year trap named anorexia nervosa," Jean explains. "I got this all right, so thin I almost died, but instead of building a happy life, I ruined my health and created more than a decade of depression and misery." (Awake! 1999) The above experience is just a picture of what has been experienced by people inflicted with a deadly eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa (Greek: "nervous loss of appetite" (Reddy, 2008)). Awake! (1999) stated that ‘according to one estimate, up to 1 out of 100 American females develops anorexia nervosa as a teenager or young adult’. This eating disorder is not new. Anorexia nervosa was officially ‘diagnosed in 1873, and the indications have allegedly been observed as far back as the sixteenth century’ (Awake! 1999). Furthermore, the number of anorexics escalated radically since the World War II. People with anorexia are gripped with being thin and are frightened of gaining weight. They often starve themselves so much that they lose a lot of weight. Anorexics have a distorted view of their body image, believing they are fat though they are extremely thin. The American Academy of Family Physicians (2009) outlines some physical alarming signs of anorexia which include the following: deliberate self-starvation with weight loss, fear of gaining weight, refusal to eat, denial of hunger, constant exercising, greater amounts of hair on the body or the face, sensitivity to cold temperatures, absent or irregular menstrual periods (for women), loss of scalp hair and a self-perception of being fat when a person is really too thin. Psychologically and emotionally speaking, anorexics often have mood swings, frequent depression, and low self-esteem. Most are socially withdrawn and anti-social. Even though it is not clear why people become anorexic, it is usually common that sufferers ‘attempt to use food and weight to deal with emotional problems’ (American Academy of Family Physicians 2009). Over the years, researchers tried to present several contributory factors in the development of anorexia nervosa. Let us consider some of these factors. Striving to Be Perfect Woman’s vulnerability may come from how she perceives her role in the society. Though men do develop anorexia, those affected are predominantly women. Those who became anorexics have often grown up believing that they should be undemanding of others. To be considered good, she has to be quiet, unseen woman who learns not to show what is bothering her. However, such an upbringing causes some to feel that they have no control of their lives. For some women, trying always to please others while at the same time suppressing their own desire to take charge of their lives creates an inner conflict that can lead to an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa.