Psychological and biological explanations of Anorexia; building blocks

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Psychological explanations of Anorexia Nervosa
Socio-cultural
Cultural ideas/media influence:
AO1 ­ The portrayal of thin models in magazines/TV is a factor in body image concerns and drive for
thinness in western adolescents
AO2 ­ Becker et al (2002) Fijian girls desired to lose weight to look like western TV characters after
TV was introduced
AO2 ­ RWA) France fashion industry signer charter to use a diversity of body shapes
Ethnicity:
AO1 ­ AN in lower in non-western & black cultures than it is in white western
AO2 ­ Pollack (1995) More positive attitudes to larger body sizes (associated with attractiveness,
fertility & nurturance)
AO2 ­ Cachelin & Regan (2006) No significant difference in eating disorders between
African-American/White Caucasian
Psychological factors
Psychodynamic:
AO1 ­ In effective parents who don't respond to child's needs correctly lead to their confusion about
their internal needs, feeling as though they don't own their body ­ so take excessive control
AO2 ­ Steiner et al (1991) Parents of adolescents with AN tend to define children's physical needs
rather than allowing children to
AO2 ­ Button & Warren (2001) Those with AN rely excessively on opinions of others and feel as
though they lack control over their lives
Personality:
AO1 ­ Traits such as perfectionism and impulsiveness have been found in those with AN
AO2 ­ Butler & Montgomery (2005) compared to control group, AN responded rapidly and
inaccurately on task, despite low self-report
AO2 ­ Halmi et al (2000) Perfectionism higher in AN women according to scale and severity of AN
linked to amount of perfectionism. Also found the trait runs in families, so genetic vulnerability to AN
Biological explanations of Anorexia Nervosa
Neural explanations
Neurotransmitters:
AO1 ­ Neurotransmitters are chemicals that effect the nervous system by transmitting impulses
across the synapse - Serotonin and Dopamine are two of which seem to have an effect on the
development of AN
AO2 ­ Bailer et al (2007) Found highest serotonin (in binging/purging type) & women with most
anxiety, suggesting disruption of serotonin leads to anxiety which may trigger AN
AO2 ­ Castro-Fornieles et al (2006) adolescent girls with AN had higher levels of homovanillic acid
(waste product of dopamine) than control group. Improvement in weight associated with
normalisation of homovanillic acid levels

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Neurodevelopment:
AO1 ­AN can be linked to pregnancy and birth complications aswell as season of birth
AO2 ­ Bulik et al (2005) mothers with AN expose offspring to `double disadvantage' ­ genetic
vulnerability to AN and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy
AO2 ­ Willoughby et al (2005) found those with AN in constantly hot parts of the world had no
seasonality effect that cause AN due to no cold time of year in which to develop infections
Evolutionary explanations
Reproductive suppression hypothesis:
AO1 ­ Surbey (1987)…read more

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