Learning and Psychodynamic Explanations of Anorexia

Out line and evaluation of both approaches. 

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Learning Explanation for Anorexia Nervosa
Theorists argue that anorexia develops due to rewards from the environment.
It is thought that the psychical changes that come with adolescence could be a cause. A
commonly help philosophy is that slim is in. Induviduals are rewarded for no eating and
the abnormal behaviour is reinforced.
In western advertising and celebrities, slim models are around constantly. There are
concerns this has an influence on the weight of an individual.
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: An individual may decide to loose a bit of weight, and from
it gain a reward of feeling better and compliments from other people. They then, based
on the reward become fearful of putting the weight back on. The fear of gaining weight
is paired with eating and a classically conditioned anxiety response develops. The next
time the individual has food they will feel anxious, and in order to stop that feeling, they
do not eat.
OPERANT CONDITIONING: Another idea is that avoidance of food is associated with
anxiety on the part of parents and others. When an individual avoids food they get
attention from other people. From this, the individual has learned that by not eating it
bring attention (reward) and therefore the fasting behaviour is reinforced.
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY: Thin models give expectations and help shape and
adolescents body image. It is thought that magazines play a huge part in shaping
perceptions of a desirable body shape. Included in this is how class mates can be role
models, by providing aspirations to other people on a daily basis.
Strengths Weaknesses
SLT is useful as it explains how anorexia It is hard to show that anorexia develops
can develop due to observation. It is via classical or operant conditioning,
helpful in understanding the disorder as unless you study the individual from
well as providing information to the birth. It is hard to pin down the causes of
media about its damaging effects. It the learned behaviour.
explains that rather than learning SLT ignores genetic and innate factors in
through trail and error, we learn through developing anorexia, so is reductionist.
observation. It doesn't explain how excessive dieting
Its appeal lies in the fact it's based and individual differences occur. Most
around observational behaviours. people in the west are exposed to
Gender differences are explained in that models, but only small percentages
females are prone to anorexic due to develop anorexia. Many people diet, but
stereotypes and social pressures they don't become anorexic. As people
have to deal with. respond differently, other factors must
be involved in learning.

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Psychodynamic Explanation for Anorexia Nervosa
One is that by being anorexic, a young girl is holding off puberty and not moving into
adulthood. This is one way of stopping development through the psychosexual stages,
becoming fixated with a particular stage, which might be an ego choice.
Another psychodynamic explanation is that anorexia represents a fear of moving into
sexual relationships and represents a way of staying physically child-like.…read more


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