Anorexia Nervosa
A normal female takes a stroll down the streets of Manhattan and ends up at

Times Square, probably one of the most colorful places on earth, which also has
an abundant number of advertisements. As this female looks up at the pictures,
she can see a Calvin Klein ad. The image portrays people who are the idols of
our youth; young, thin, beautiful men and women. These young people depict the"ideal" body. As this female walks, she begins to notice her own physical
attributes and wonders what it would take for her to look like that Calvin Klein
model. Despite the fact that the greatest majority of us could never attain
these physiques, many, especially young women, deeply desire to have bodies like
these. And many will go to great lengths to attain their goal. This often means
stringent, unhealthy diets, laxative abuse, and even forcing themselves to
vomit. Although the mediaís portrayal of the "perfect body" may not be the
soul source of eating disorders, they play a big part. Anorexia nervosa is a
disorder of self-starvation, which manifests itself in an extreme aversion to
food and can cause psychological, endocrine, and gynecological problems. It
almost exclusively affects adolescent white girls, with symptoms involving a
refusal to eat, large weight loss, a bizarre preoccupation with food,
hyperactivity, a distorted body image and cessation of menstruation. Although
the symptoms can be corrected if the patient is treated in time, about 10-15
percent of anorexia nervosa patients die, usually after losing half their normal
body weight. Anorexia nervosa patients typically come from white, middle to
upper-middle class families that place heavy emphasis on high achievement,
perfection, eating patterns and physical appearance. (There has never been a
documented case of anorexia nervosa in a black male or female.) A newly
diagnosed patient often is described by her parents as a "model child,"
usually because she is obedient, compliant, and a good student. Although most
teenagers experience some feelings of youthful rebellion, persons with anorexia
usually do not outwardly exhibit these feelings, tending instead to be childish
in their thinking, in their need for parental approval, and in their lack of
independence. Psychologists theorize that the patientís desire to control her
own life manifests itself in the realm of eating-the only area in the
patientís mind where she has the ability to direct her own life (Mental

Health, Long). In striving for perfection and approval, a person with anorexia
may begin to diet in order to lose just a few pounds. Dieting does not stop
there. An abnormal concern with dieting is established. Nobody knows what
triggers the disease, but suddenly, losing five to ten pounds is not enough. The
anorectic patient becomes intent on losing weight. It is not uncommon for
someone who develops the disorder to starve herself until she weighs just 60 or

70 pounds. Throughout the starvation process, she either denies being hungry or
claims to feel full after eating just a few bites. Another form of anorexia
nervosa is an eating disorder known as "bulimia." Patients with this illness
indulge in "food binges," and then purge themselves through vomiting
immediately after eating or through the use of laxatives or diuretics. While on
the surface these patients may appear to be well adjusted socially, this serious
disease is particularly hard to overcome because it usually has been a pattern
of behavior for a long time. Psychological symptoms such as social withdrawal,
obsessive-compulsiveness and depression often precede or accompany anorexia
nervosa. The patientís distorted view of herself and the world around her are
the cause of these psychological disturbances (Mental Health, Long). Distortion
of body image is another prevalent symptom. While most normal females can give
an accurate estimate of their body weight, anorectic patients tend to perceive
themselves as markedly larger than they really are. When questioned, most feel
that their emaciated state (70-80 lbs.) is either "just right" or "too
fat"(Mayohealth) Profound physical symptoms occur in cases of extreme
starvation. These include loss of head hair, growth of fine body hair,
constipation, intolerance of cold temperatures and low pulse rate. Certain
endocrine functions also become impaired. In females this results in a cessation
of menstruation (amenorrhea) and the absence of ovulation. Menstruation usually
will not resume until endocrine balanced is restored. Ovulation is suppressed
because production for certain necessary hormones decreases. Anorexia in boys
has effects similar to those in girls: severe weight loss, psychosocial problems
and interruption of normal reproductive system processes. Treatment for anorexia
nervosa is usually threefold, consisting of nutritional therapy, individual
psychotherapy and family counseling. A