Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/edwarddr/public_html/psychologically-speaking/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Tools To Improve Your Life(Continued from previous post: Understanding Eating Disorders (Part 1))

Combining the Three Factors: When we combine the biological, social, and psychological factors involved in eating disorders, the following picture may emerge. A child is born with a genetic predisposition for an endomorphic body type.  They don’t metabolize calories rapidly. If the child lives in a calm environment and receives nurturing by relaxed, affectionate, loving  parents where healthy eating habits and exercise are fostered, where uniqueness and individuality are valued, the child develops a healthy self-image and feels self-confident.  The likelihood of this child turning to food as a source of comfort is minimized. This child would be in a better position to deal with the social pressures of a peer group that stresses conformity in appearance and style. In this scenario even the child with a genetic predisposition for being heavier than the average would be less likely to develop an eating disorder.

However, if this child were raised in a family where there was acrimony, and anxious and controlling caregivers, with emphasis placed on conformity, performance, appearances, and a general atmosphere of high tension and high expectation, the likelihood of the child developing an eating disorder is much higher. If this is compounded by the social environment in which the child lives, e.g., a community that places a high value on appearance, conformity, excellence, with considerable social pressure to fit in, the probability of developing an eating disorder is greater, especially for the endomorphic child who already feels like a misfit in a world that emphasizes thinness.

The world of the anorectic or bulimic is similar to the world of the compulsive over eater.  However, instead of turning to food as a source of comfort, this child turns to controlling the amount of food they take in. They develop very specific dietary constraints often trying to subsist on the least amount of food possible.  They discover purging as a means for controlling their world.  In this small area of their life they are in complete control. No one can force them to eat.  While they are engaged in their ritual eating behavior they are able to block out the world, nothing else matters.

The individual experiencing anorexia or bulimia is highly susceptible to social pressures.  These people desperately need love and attention. They strive for recognition. They are preoccupied with whether they look like the models in their magazines who are receiving the attention from the world. Fitting in becomes all important, social acceptance is vital.  Unfortunately, once they have become preoccupied with their eating rituals their relationships with people suffer.  The very thing they crave, they begin to lose.  This creates more anxiety and an increase in the eating disorder. Most bulimics and all anorectics also experience body dysmorphia making it more difficult for them to understand the reactions of other people to their appearance and/or eating rituals; they often believe what they are doing is perfectly normal.

The world of the anorectic or bulimic is similar to the world of the compulsive over eater.  However, instead of turning to food as a source of comfort, this child turns to controlling the amount of food they take in. They develop very specific dietary constraints often trying to subsist on the least amount of food possible.  They discover purging as a means for controlling their world.  In this small area of their life they are in complete control. No one can force them to eat.  While they are engaged in their ritual eating behavior they are able to block out the world, nothing else matters.

Now that you have a cursory understanding of the development of eating disorders, you might be wondering about treatment.  Seldom are people experiencing an eating disorder able to change their behavior without professional help. Well-meaning family members and friends who use logic, guilt, shame, coercion, and so forth are rarely effective in helping these individuals.  Their entreaties only result in increasing the anxiety and distress for the eating disordered individual thereby increasing their cravings. Part of the reason for this is due to the biochemical effects that take place once the eating disorder has developed. Similar to other addictive behaviors, the individual begins to crave the substance of choice.  Brain chemistry changes over time as the individual pursues their disorder.  Brain chemicals are released when a person even begins to think about pursuing their pleasure.  The individual begins to crave the substance and cannot experience relief until the craving is satisfied.  In the case of the compulsive over-eater, for example, the individual may either see or think about their preferred food.  Once the idea gets into their head, they feel compelled to pursue it; the thought becomes persistent (an obsession) for which they then only achieve relief once it is satisfied. And once they begin to eat, they often cannot stop themselves until they feel stuffed.  Similarly, once a bulimic or anorexic individual thinks about or pursues purging, chemicals are released that induce cravings that demand satisfaction.  For these reasons, professional interventions usually take two simultaneous approaches.  One course addresses the behavior directly through behavior therapy while the other course addresses the underlying psychological issues through psychotherapy.  In extreme cases, the individual may need an inpatient treatment program.

[Dr. Dreyfus is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist, relationship counselor, sex therapist, and life coach in the Santa Monica – Los Angeles area treating low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, sexual addictions, drug and alcohol abuse as well marriage and relationship communication and intimacy issues. The profits from his latest book, LIVING LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT along with his other five books, are being donated to Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs and Make A Wish Foundation.  All of his books are available on Amazon.com. Please become a fan on my Facebook Fan Page by indicating “like” on the page by clicking here. You can also find more tools to help you experience a more fulfilling life by clicking here to visit my website.]