September 26, 2012
It's estimated that about eight million Americans have an eating disorder, and that seven million of these Americans are women and 1 million are men (SCDMH). Another interesting set of numbers is displayed in the fact that the mortality rate that is associated with anorexia nervosa is twelve times higher than that of the death rate for all causes of death for females between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four (SCDMH).What this means is that the rate of females between these ages die more often of the eating disorder than they would of natural illnesses or even car accidents. Anorexia nervosa, physically, would look, in most cases, like a walking skeleton. The victims that are too afraid to eat would starve themselves to extreme emaciation. Binge-eating disorders are significantly different when it comes to appearance. A victim of binge-eating would most likely be overweight. When it comes to this disorder, however, I'm not referring to a couple of pounds over your natural Body Mass Index compared to your height. The weight gain I am referencing here would be more around two hundred to four hundred pounds in an extreme case (SCDMH). So, it is safe to say that there is a world of difference between these two disorders. Although this may be true based on physical appearance, the similarities between anorexia and binge-eating disorder psychologically and healthily are astounding.
Consider this quotation, “ I am forever engaged in a silent battle in my head over whether or not to lift the fork to my mouth, and when I talk myself into doing so, I taste only shame (Morrow).” If asked what type of disordered person would udder this quote, what would you say? Is it the frightened anorexic who probably calculated the number of calories in that bite as soon as they began the lift to their mouth? Is it the obese person who engulfs so many calories every day at such a fast rate that the only time they have to think of the calories they've consumed is later when they feel disgustingly full? If you answered the anorexic, you would be right. My point here, however, is that one wouldn't really know. The similarities of the psyches between too such eating disordered persons are, again, very similar.
Anorexia is a psychiatric disorder characterized by an unrealistic fear of weight gain, self-starvation, and a conspicuous distortion of body image. The individual is obsessed with becoming increasingly thinner and limits food intake to the point where their health is compromised (Saunders).
The term Anorexia Nervosa is Latin derived and means a nervous inability to eat. An interesting and complex disorder, anorexia can be traced back to the early Middle Ages. At least 500 years ago, anorexia mirabilis, a term that means loss of appetite caused by a miracle, was actually considered miraculous and used by very holy people (Butler-Knight). Although pretty different from how we feel today about anorexia, this fact shows just how easy it is to develop a condition that others may not see as serious. According to the book, A Complete Idiot's Guide to Psychology, a person will develop an eating disorder at a difficult time in their lives. Anorexia is a pattern of self-starvation that occurs primarily in young girls in Western cultures from middle and upper socioeconomic classes (Butler-Knight). A common cause of anorectic behavior is a sense of powerlessness. This person can feel that if they cannot control what is happening in their day to day life, they can at least control what they put into their bodies. The person feels powerful and more in control when they can make themselves lose weight (Butler-Knight). Anorexia may begin as a result of depression or low self-esteem. To these individuals, it's easier to diet than it is to deal with unwanted problems and the emotions as a result of said problems. Due to an anorexics low self-esteem, they may feel that they