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Psychological Explanations for Anorexia Nervosa Essay Plan
1. Describe in detail ethnicity and peer influences. Meta analysis of 98 studies- Grabe and Hyde
2006- found a difference between African-American and Caucasian and Hispanic females.
African-Americans reported significantly less body dissatisfaction than the other groups.
Therefore, they concluded that Anorexia Nervosa is a Western concept and doesn't apply to
other cultures. Pollack- in Fiji and the Caribbean there are more positive attitudes towards
large body sizes, linked to attractiveness, fertility and nurturance. Eisenberg- US study-
dieting among friends was significantly related to unhealthy weight control behaviour such as
the use of diet pills or purging. Conclusion: peers have a major influence and can motivate
you to continue.
2. Outline briefly Bruch's psychodynamic theory. She claims that the origins of AN are in early
childhood. Two types of parents effective, who respond appropriately to their child's needs,
and in effective parents, fail to respond appropriately to their child's needs. Adolescence
increases a desire to establish autonomy , unable to do so, don't own their bodies, take
excessive control over their body shape and size by developing abnormal eating habits.
3. Critical Point 1: This theory has flaws. Cachelin and Regan found no significant differences in
prevalence of disordered eating between African-American and white Caucasian
participants. Consequently, there is mixed evidence as to whether AN is universal or just a
4. Critical Point 2: The second part of the socio-cultural explanations for AN also has problems.
Shroff and Thompson found no correlation among friends on measures of disordered eating
in an adolescent sample. Therefore, there is the question again as to whether peers really
have that high an influence on eating behaviour.
5. Critical Point 3: However, there are some positives from carrying out this research and
making people more aware of the disorder. In France, the fashion industry is attempting to
change the damaging influence of the media on body image, by fashion houses, advertising
agencies and magazine editors using a variety of body types and not just the stereotypical
"thin ideal". As a result of this, people will feel happy about their bodies and not engage in
dramatic weight control behaviours such as Anorexia Nervosa.
6. Critical Point 4: Bruch's theory is supported by a few studies. In particular, Steiner found that
parents with anorexic children, seem to define their children's physical needs instead of
allowing their children to define their own, and Bruch found that many of these parents
claimed to "anticipate their children's needs as opposed to letting them "feel" hungry.
Therefore, this fits in with one of the key concepts of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa
because Anorexics tend to feel like they are not in control of their life, so to make up for this
they try to control their food intake instead but due to the body dismorphia take it too far.
So, the theory has strong evidence to support it and links in with the underlying idea of what
Anorexia is about.
7. Critical Point 5: Although, there is evidence to suggest Anorexia Nervosa is biological instead
of just psychological. For instance, Bailer found significantly higher serotonin activity in