Is Anorexia Caused By Social Factors?

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Eating disorders are some of the most complex and dangerous areas of mental health study and treatment in many ways. While most mental illnesses bring social stigmas and other such issues, few can be contributed to a combination of social behavior and mental biology like anorexia often is.

MeasuringTapeStomachDue to the way eating disorders like anorexia intertwine gender issues, social issues, and mental health, it has long been misunderstood, misrepresented, and neglected or oversimplified. Thankfully, recent decades have brought heightened awareness to the high rates of eating disorders and their severity in our society, but there are still great strides to be mae.

For example, many psychotherapists hold the narrow view that anorexia is the result of an achievement-oriented “Type A” personality combined with (typically) a young woman who his grappling with society’s expectations of her and her own perception of those expectations.

While this pattern can be seen in a large number of patients with eating disorders, it ignores the number of 9- or 10-year-old children across the racial and socioeconomic spectra, as well as the number of men of all ages who are developing eating disorders. It can be said that social and environmental factors have a heavy hand in causing eating disorders, but clearly it is far from the entire story.

Recently, Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., explored our understandings of anorexia and the possible causes of the condition in an article. It opens up a realm of other possibilities for thinking about the conditions, as well as a possible avenue of treatment that is often ignored.

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