Anorexia Nervosa

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  • Anorexia Nervosa
    • Biological Explanations
      • Neural
        • Brain structure
          • This suggests that anorexia is the result of a faulty/lesion lateral hypothalamus, the area of the brain which stimulates feeding
          • +Anand and Bobreck found that rats with a lesion in the LH were underweight and ate less.
        • Seritonin
          • Serotonin is often linked to anxiety disorders, low levels have been linked to AN
          • +Kaye found in PET scans of recovering anorexics and found that they had below average receptor activity in visual cortex and visuo-spatial processing as ell as altered activity in areas dealing with mood, anxiety and awareness
            • This supports the biological approach as it shows how symptoms such as negative and faulty body image could be caused by serotonin under activity.
            • Could be a result of AN, not a cause
          • +Kaye suggests ... Less food = Less tryptophan = Less Serotonin = Less Anxiety.
            • More holistic approach
      • Evolutionary/ Genetic
        • Reproduction Suppression
          • In the EEA (Environment of Evolutionary Adaption) anorexia was adaptive as it prevented menstruation during times of unfit environment for bringing up a child.
        • Adapted to Flee Famine
          • Anorexia was adaptive as it meant people could ignore their hunger and continue surviving during times of famine. those with this trait survived and passed it down through natural selection.
        • +Holland et al looked into concordance rates for AN and found a 56% concordance in MZ twins and a 7% concordance in DZ. This shows a clear genetic link.
        • Nature vs Nurture - according to this explanation, anorexia rates should be the same everywhere however the cultural differences (higher rates in the western world) limit this theory.
        • Can't explain recent increase
        • Unfalsifiable
      • Can't account for cultural or gender differences
    • Psychological Explanations
      • Psychodynamic
        • A  way of gaining control due to ineffective parents who are over controlling
          • +Brunch found that parents on anorexic teens defined trends of their children for them - sign of ineffective parenting
        • Denial and suppression of puberty as anorexia slows down development
        • Displacement of sexual frustration or trauma onto food.
          • +Mclelland 30% of eating disorder patients had a history of sexual abuse
        • Can account for gender differences as theory focuses on girls
      • Learning
        • Classical Conditioning
          • Learning through association. A person feels satisfaction (Unconditional response)  when they get thinner (Unconditional stimulus) and therefore are conditioned to also feel this way when not eating (Conditional stimulus)
        • Social Learning Theory
          • People observe thin celebrities being praised for their body and looks and are therefore motivated to imitate the restricted eating behaviour so they can also achieve this.
          • +Becker studied the eating behaviour on a figian island before (1995) and after (1998) the introduction of TV and western ideals in the media. He found that 3% of girls reported vommiting to control weight before and 15% afterwards
            • Ignores extraneous variables other than SLT such as family stress which may have influenced behaviour
        • Operant Conditioning
          • Anorexia is reinforced positively by the gain of social acceptance and positive body image and negatively by the loss of these.
        • Can't explain individual differences as all westerners are exposed to the media yet only 3% have AN


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