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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

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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…


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