The Effect of Psychological Factors on Anorexia Nervosa
In the research to explain whether anorexia nervosa is caused by
psychological factors several explanations were given. The
“Psychodynamic explanation” being one of the main ones suggests that
‘one’ is motivated to behave the way they do by unconscious and often
repressed desires that featured in their past. For example someone
doesn’t want to grow up, set off in to adulthood, instead they want to
remain a child; not eating helps them to do this as it ‘preserves
childhood’. What makes it easier for them to do this is the support
from the mother. She wants to take care of a child and to feel needed;
thus by having a frail and sick child keeps the mother/daughter
relationship going. Another reason came from Freud who stated ...view middle of the document...
The Behavioural explanation suggests that all our behaviour is learned
through the reinforcements we get for it. If certain behaviour is
positively reinforced we are more likely to repeat it. For example
when one loses weight they receive compliments. Another example can be
the profession of that person, usually ballet dancers, gymnasts and
other professions with demanding activities that requires you to be
slim. A high percentage of anorexia cases do one of these jobs.
However this doesn’t tell us how we get the disorder, just how we keep
it. It also can’t be a definite explanation as it would basically mean
almost everyone should have it. It overlooks the importance of
cognitive factors, such as distorted and faulty ideas about body
weight. The only clear strength of this explanation is that its
positive reinforcements can promote weight gain in some with anorexia.
The Cognitive explanation focuses on the thought processes that may
underlie certain behaviour. For example people may hold the irrational
belief that they cannot be valued unless they have the ideal
appearance; thinking things such as “I must lose more weight since I
am not yet thin”. Button et al tried to prove this with an experiment
(questionnaire) on a group of girls at certain ages. From this
approach it is hard to justify it as the thoughts of the person can
not be verified, nor can the questions asked be completely appropriate
for the person answering them.
In conclusion many factors including biological, family relationships
and reinforcements all contribute to the disorder in some way. The
lack of any clear support for any of the explanations leaves it as a
weak explanation for the psychological cause of anorexia.