Psychological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa

Not sure how well this would do in an exam as I'm a private candidate so this hasn't been marked. There could be a few more synoptic points but I think it's a pretty well rounded answer.

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  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 12-01-12 14:47
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Outline and evaluate psychological explanations for anorexia nervosa [20 marks].

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Behavioural explanations of anorexia nervosa (AN) suggest that slimming becomes a
`habit', through stimulus response mechanisms. For example, the person does on a diet and
receives praise either for their efforts or their new slimmer appearance. Operant
conditioning then takes effect as the admiration from others further reinforces their
dieting behaviour. Rewards may also come in the form of attention gained from parents
by not eating. Behavioural psychologists also propose anorexia as a phobia concerning the
possibility of gaining weight.…read more

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Minuchin et al (1998) suggest that girls use the control over their bodies to divert
attention from other family patterns. They suggest that families of anorexics have one of
the following problems: enmeshment; overprotection; rigidity; conflict avoidance. Steiner
found that parents of adolescents with AN had a tendency to define their children's needs
rather than letting them define their own needs. This supports the claim that children of
ineffective parents become overly reliant on their parents to identify their needs.…read more


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