Psychological Explanations for Anorexia

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Psychological Explanations for Anorexia Nervosa:


  • Bruch - origins of AN are from early childhood
  • there are 2 types of parents: effective parent who responds appropriately to child's needs and an ineffective parent who fails to respond appropriately to a child's needs. 
  • Adolescence believe they need to establish their autonomy (independence), however, if they can't do this, they "don't own their bodies"
  • This then results in an excessive control over their body, developing abnormal eating behaviours e.g AN. 

:) supported by... 

  • Steiner - parents with AN children tend to define their child's physical needs instead of letting their children define their own. (Lack of autonomy/ independence)
  • This piece of research fits in with the ideas of the Psychodynamic theory, suggesting that AN sufferers feel like they have no independence or control, therefore they control their food intake. 

:( However, criticisms for the psychodynamic approach are:

  • The theory is difficult to falsify (difficult to prove or to disprove) because the theory lacks appropriate evidence as it is based on Freud's imaginative theory. 
  • Real life application - Psychotherapy, a therapist tries to find out the undermining childhood memory of an AN patient.
  • The theory blames parents for the disorder, when in fact it could be other factors, such as a personality trait or a biological factor etc. 
  • (To score more AO2 marks, you can suggest an AID criticism [Approaches…


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