anorexia nervosa(redirected from Anarexia)
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anorexia nervosaa disorder of eating behaviour. This is a psychological disturbance found predominantly in young women which leads them to perceive themselves as obese and to attempt to become slim. Their disordered eating behaviour is most usually expressed as a refusal to eat sufficiently, so that weight is lost, and in conjunction there may be episodes of bulimia, or bingeing, followed by the use of purgatives and self-induced vomiting. As weight loss continues menstruation ceases, and, though at first energy appears to increase, eventually the physical condition may become life-threatening.
There has been much interest in and research into this condition since the early 1970s. Among sociologists, anorexia is considered a ‘pathology of self-identity’, arising from the idealization of slimness (especially for women) in contemporary societies. Disordered family relationships have been suggested as a precipitating factor, the effort of the patient to return to being a child (immature figure, non-menstruating) suggesting an unwillingness to become an adult. It is also proposed that a genetic predisposition may underlie the problem. Current treatment is becoming more oriented to medical intervention to correct the biochemical imbalance, but social and psychiatric treatments are still widely used. When a patient is severely ill, needing hospitalization, the usual treatment has been behavioural, which can be effective in inducing weight gain. See BEHAVIOUR THERAPY. Psychotherapy is used to assist the patient achieve a realistic perception of her/his situation, and SELF-HELP GROUPS are found useful by many sufferers who may need longterm support. See also BODY.