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Body Image - Essay Example

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During the year 1870s, anorexia nervosa first existed and was initially perceived as a nervous disorder associated with young women. But in the 19th century, anorexia is defined as: "(1) a refusal to maintain a normal body weight with body weight at least 15 percent below that expected; (2) an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat despite being underweight; (3) body image distortion, 'feeling fat' and overvaluation of thinness; and (4) a reduction of food intake, avoidance of fattening foods, often with extensive exercise, self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse so as to achieve the weight loss and maintain a low body weight" (qtd. in Malson 3).
Out of many studies from different researchers about the severity of eating disorder, it was Lacey's (1985) "false self" and "borderline" eating-disordered patients that corresponded to the most severe forms of the illness. Lacy's (1985) idea on "false self" was actually motivated from observations of Winnicott (1975) that discrepancies in the self came out either as an adaptation to a lack of emphatic encouragement and support from the primary caretaker, or as an unintentional consequence of miscuing between mother and child. Consequently, due to this disruption, it might cause problems in introspective/reflective awareness, or insufficient consolidation of self-regulatory skills. Since there is already a lack of inner awareness, an adolescent eating-disordered woman might present with an undemanding, compliant personality that is sensitive to outer, but not inner signs (Eliot 2004). Accordingly, the woman might tend to be a "people pleaser" whose pseudo-maturity and intuitive autonomy are part of the false pretense.

On the other hand, the so-called "borderline" patients encompassed the most seriously ill group even up to the present day. Particular characteristics portrayed by these patients are the perception of themselves as overwhelmed, always in danger, of no value, and unattractive. Correspondingly, they see other people as corrective, controlling, and insensitively critical. Their fragmented sense of self and fragile ego boundaries often result in poor impulse control and a anxious search for external tension regulation. Behaviors that are exhibited in order to lessen and alleviate a sense of internal emptiness and despair cause these patients to be poly-symptomatic and particularly difficult to help.

Factors Affecting Anorexia Nervosa

There are in point of fact numerous factors that can be enumerated that affect eating disorders in women. It may be due to socio-cultural factors, family problems, individual vulnerability as a result of trauma or things that might have gone wrong in the difficult early mother-child relationship, and the influence brought about by the mass media. In sticking with the scope of this paper, the socio-cultural factors and the mass media are the only factors that are further discussed aligning to this paper's purpose.

Socio-cultural Factors
As women reach adolescence, they undergo a lot of physical changes like their size and shape. It is also during this time when culture ...Show more


On many college campuses, substantial attention has been paid on the effects of physical characteristics and self-perceptions of the body on women's behaviors, cognitions, and its influence. Most of the time, issues like the physical attractiveness, body image satisfaction, weight concerns, and eating problems have become apparently the most important concerns on many women…
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Body Image
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