Anorexia Research Paper

Anorexia based on Health Sickness & Culture Views in the USA

The question about health is a very important for the contemporary American society. Health and wealth have become proclaimed national standards recently. There are several logical reasons for such attitude. First of all good health is necessary for an individual to perform his social roles successfully. Sick person in not able to perform his or her social roles successfully. Interactionist approach to the problem of health and sickness assumes that these two notions are distinguished by the medical workers to great extant. For example, a person must come back to work even if he or she feels sick if all medical figures prove him to be healthy. On the other hand some symptoms are treated like a disease by medical community and patients themselves and are treated accordingly even if they are found in healthy person. Culture and society also have great impact on the definition of health standards.

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Anorexia Nervosa has attracted great attention of medial community and wide publicity comparatively recently despite the cases of this disease have been met starting from 1870s. Since than Anorexia Nervosa “has become common parlance, used as hyperbole by those outside the medical profession (particularly women) to comment on one another’s bodies. (Brumberg 110) Anorexia is a serious problem, which attracts an attention of wide publicity. Different authors and orators address this problem in different ways.

During the war time millions of people were dying of famine just because there had nothing to eat. Nowadays a lot of people are also dying of hunger, although they have food. How is it possible in times when people can afford practically everything they want? How could young beautiful girls die of hunger in the 21st century? The only possible answer is anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder which is closely connected with personality disorders caused by the obsessive desire to be slim and thin. For many people anorexia is a disease of top models, who are obsessed with dieting and keeping fit. In reality this problem is much more serious and widespread than we can imagine. Despite the fact that anorexia has deep roots it has become wide spread in modern Europe and America. There is a kind of paradox: this disorder is most common among prosperous people of higher social classes. As wrote Hilde Bruch in her popular book The Golden Cage, “New diseases are rare, and a disease that selectively befalls the young, rich and beautiful is practically unheard of. But such a disease is affecting the daughters of well-to-do, educated and successful families. For the last fifteen of twenty years anorexia nervosa has been occurring at a rapidly increasing rate.” (Bruch 11) The author also states that disease becomes widespread with frighteningly quick temps. In reality Bruch’s book has even contributed to the popularity of this disease and added to the panic about so called epidemic of anorexia nervosa. What is notable, this disease is no way connected with the amount of food. Selvini-Palazzoli, one of pioneers of the anorexia nervosa study, states that cases of anorexia were not noticed during the difficult period of WWII and some time after it. Sad irony is that people started to die of anorexia during abundant times of economical well being and even prosperity. (Selvini-Palazzoli)

How can this fact be explained? Why do people torture themselves and undermine their health? It may sound surprisingly but everything begins with one harmful diet. You want to lose a few pounds and to look gorgeous in your new dress, you just start eating a bit less than before, and then you deny yourself breakfast and the vicious circle starts. Then you start avoiding situations that involve food and meal breaks. You become conscious of all people around you. Friends begin to notice that you lose weight but you do not listen to them. Parents start paying attention to this and you just try to excuse saying that you want to fit into dress. You avoid talks about food and weight while your brain is occupied only by these thoughts. One day you realize that you cannot stop not eating and your life is in danger. The main aim of this speech is to attack readers’ attention to this problem and get emotional response from.

The question about the epidemics of anorexia is still under doubts. There are two facts, which can be used in favor of the argument about epidemic. First of all growing rates of anorexia can be regarded as proofs of this thesis. In addition there are many facts which prove that there are groups of people ill with anorexia. The annual death rate that is associated with anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate for all other cases females between 16 and 24 years old. “he death rate associated with anorexia nervosa alone is more than 12 times higher than the overall death rate among young women in the general population.”(Sullivan, 1995) Every day women all over the world die because of anorexia and still this problem is not analyzed in a proper way.

The consequences of anorexia are very serious. It has a wide range of medical complications, such as changes in the functions of kidneys and gastrointestinal system. All in all, it can have an impact on every system of our organism and endanger our lives. Statistics show that among all people who suffer from anorexia only 42 percent completely recover, 30 percent improve their health and 20 percent suffer from eating disorders all their life (Cavanaugh 1999).

There are facts, which prove that anorexia is not an epidemic of modern time but a diseases, condition by social norms and standards of the contemporary society. Anorexia is widespread among young white female population of the country. “Anorexia nervosa is not a problem among contemporary American blacks or Chikanos; neither was it a conspicuous problem among first-generation and second-generation ethnic immigrants such as Eastern European Jews. (Brumberg 112) At the same chances to become ill with anorexia increase while representatives of these groups move up the social ladder. So, it becomes evident that so called “epidemics” have restrictions by the age and social position. In addition, this disease is more likely to be found in the United States of America, Japan, Western European countries and some other countries, which experience a process of rapid Westernalization. Anorexia is hard to be found in developing countries or countries of the third world. All these facts serve as additional proofs that anorexia has social and cultural roots. All American fashion and pop culture advances an ideal of slim girl. All models, pop starts, actresses and TV stars are slim. Girls, who do no meet high requirements of time, have to look for any ways to become suitable for rigid social norms. “The cultural explanation of anorexia nervosa is popular and widely promoted. It postulates that anorexia nervosa is generated by a powerful cultural imperative that makes slimness the chief attribute of female beauty.”(Brumberg 115) American women are obsessed with the idea of dieting and popular culture makes this obsession even stronger. Obesophobie, is a term used for people preoccupied with eating and dieting, can be referred to most American teens. Different surveys prove that female self-esteem and feeling of happiness have a direct dependence on their weight. This connection is especially strong during adolescent and young adult years. Some girls and women believe that loose of weight can cause career promotion and help build good relationship with people around. “A 1986 study revealed that “feeling fat” was significantly related to emotional stress and other external stimuli. Obviously, being and feeling thin is an extremely desirable condition in this culture, whereas feeling fat is not.” (Brumberg 117) This also explains social scope of anorexic patients. Women of upper class have more desire to be successful and use their appearance as one of factors of their success. Being slim has become and important criteria of success and women of upper class are ready to torture themselves in order to meet social requirements. The study has showed a direct correlation between social position of woman and her desire to be thin. The higher social position occupies a woman, the stronger is her desire to be thing.

People with anorexia have strong fear of gaining weight and cannot perceive their shape and body in a proper way. People have an obsession with their weight; they think they are extremely fat even when they are so skinny that their lives can be in danger. They usually keep to such a diet and restrict food so much that soon they start losing their weight and cannot stop this process. What is more dangerous, such people try to hide this fact from their nearest and dearest and continue dieting. If people realize the fact that they cannot stop their dieting and ask for help there is a great possibility that they will recover. But only one woman in one hundred realizes that she is ill and that she is not able to overcome this problem without doctors’ help. In most cases people with anorexia either do not mention their illness at all or try to get rid of it by own forces. That is why this problem must care us, it is necessary to take people around us who suffer from such terrible illness. We must remember that it is in our strength.

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