Role Of Psychology In Eating Disorders
Role of psychology in Eating Disorders
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u 1.0Introduction PAGEREF _Toc432084647 h 32.0Types of Eating Disorders PAGEREF _Toc432084648 h 33.0Causes of Eating Disorders PAGEREF _Toc432084649 h 44.0Psychological Factors Contributing to Eating Disorders PAGEREF _Toc432084650 h 54.1Perfectionism PAGEREF _Toc432084651 h 54.2Obsessive-Compulsiveness PAGEREF _Toc432084652 h 64.3Neuroticism PAGEREF _Toc432084653 h 74.4Conscientiousness PAGEREF _Toc432084654 h 74.5Extroversion PAGEREF _Toc432084655 h 84.6Core Low Self Esteem PAGEREF _Toc432084656 h 84.7Agreeableness PAGEREF _Toc432084657 h 95.0Family of Origin Psychology PAGEREF _Toc432084658 h 96.0Openness PAGEREF _Toc432084659 h 106.0 Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc432084660 h 107.0References PAGEREF _Toc432084661 h 11
IntroductionPsychology plays a big role in creating an eating disorder. To understand the psychological factors involved, it would be apt to discuss the different types of eating disorders. This paper provides a brief introduction to the different disorders known to the psychological fraternity. The main types of eating disorders discussed include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Discussing the types of eating disorders introduces the reader to the psychological aspect of eating disorders. The research paper also includes the causes of eating disorders. The said causes include but are not limited to genetic vulnerability, socio-cultural influences, and psychological factors. This is where the core of the research introduces the reader to the role of psychology in eating disorders. The main psychological traits that have been identified to contribute towards eating disorders include perfectionism, neuroticism, and harm avoidance among other. Understanding these traits brings the reader closer to the full understanding of the different roles of psychology in eating disorders.
Types of Eating DisordersThere three main types of eating disorders. These are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating (Welch, Ghader, & Swenne, 2015). Anorexia refers to a disorder whereby the individual in question refuses to eat believing they are overweight. This causes the individual to adopt habits such as not eating in front of people. Such a belief may push the individual to starve to death. Individuals suffering from anorexia are usually dangerously thin. On the other hand, an individual suffering from bulimia eats a lot but dispenses the consumed food upon finishing it. One of the ways they do this is by coaxing their throats with their index finger. The individual may also perform severe exercises with the aim of reducing the calories within their bodies. This in return results in the individual not being able to hold down their food. Binge eating is also a disorder where the individual in question may experience an episode of rampant eating. In all these cases, psychology plays an important role. However, to understand the importance of psychology, discussing the causes of eating disorders is paramount.
Causes of Eating DisordersThere are three main causes of eating disorders. These are a genetic vulnerability, psychological factors, and socio-cultural influences (Fitzsimmons-Craft, Keatts, & Bardone-Cone, 2013). Genetic vulnerability suggests that the individual in question has genes that affect their tendency to have eating disorders. These genes influence the individual’s reward-pleasure responses. The individual also lacks the appropriate metabolism rate associated with normal people. The genes responsible for the rapid mood changes are also known to affect the individual’s alter their appetite. Psychological factors have also been found to influence one’s tendency to have eating disorders. For instance, some of the character traits that influence an individual’s tendency towards eating disorders include perfectionism, obsessive compulsiveness, neuroticism, negative emotionality, harm avoidance, core low self-esteem, and an avoidant personality (Fitzsimmons-Craft, Keatts, & Bardone-Cone, 2013). However, for the purposes of this research, the focus is on perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, neuroticism, and extraversion among other character traits. The psychological factors have been discussed in further detail in the next section of this research. Socio-cultural influences have also caused the tendency of one to have eating disorders. This is especially the case among individuals who accept and internalize a certain type of beauty commonly accentuated by western people. This type of beauty involves the individual being as slim as possible.
Psychological Factors Contributing to Eating DisordersThere are different psychological traits that contribute to the development of psychological disorders. These include low self-esteem, neuroticism, obsessive-compulsiveness, perfectionism, and negativity among other. There are other personality traits that are psychologically associated with eating disorders. These include the aggressive trait and self-centered trait. These are the main psychological factors influencing an individual’s tendency to have an eating disorder. However, it would be important to note that prolonged starvation has been known to cause drastic changes in one’s cognition (Clausen, Lübeck, & Jones, 2013). This in turn affects an individual’s behavior and thus personal behavior. Discerning the causes from effects of the psychological factors can, therefore, become a difficult task. However, some of the more common effects include obsession, alienation, social withdrawal, and anxiety. There are risk factors that are often regarded as modifiable risk factors. These are the internalization of social-cultural ideas regarding beauty. Most importantly, the individual regards being thin as essential in being beautiful. The individual may also harbor a body dissatisfaction which results in a low self-esteem. Addressing these psychological factors helps in mitigating the effects of weight loss behaviors that could be regarded as extreme.
PerfectionismIndividuals with the perfectionist trait have been found to want things working just right. Such individuals have a low tolerance for failure. When such an individual couples high expectations with their body appearance, they tend to become extreme in the measures they take to achieve a particular look. Psychologically, this individual has internalized perfectionism in different areas of their lives. However good their body looks, the individual is chronically dissatisfied (Mangweth-Matzek et al., 2014). Therefore, the individual keeps increasing the level of their standards. One of the main problems with this psychological problem is that other people will avoid them. This increases chances that the individual will be alienated. This adds to the stress resulting from perfectionism. An individual who is psychologically a perfectionist has a higher chance of developing an eating disorder. However, the individual has to have the need for perfectionism in the area of body image. This is the reason that the individual may go to great extremes to achieve the perfect body image.
Obsessive-CompulsivenessObsessive compulsiveness refers to individuals who have a tendency towards anxiety that pushes them to act in a particular manner. The individual in question gets a particular thought pattern that forces them to act in a manner that is compulsive. This is a psychological problem that is common among individuals with eating disorders (Welch, Ghader, & Swenne, 2015). The individual acts in an obsessively similar fashion each time they have certain thoughts. For instance, an individual suffering from bulimia will exhibit a tendency to expel the food they have just eaten. This is compulsive as the individual has just had a thought that they have consumed more food than they should have. A binge eater also experiences obsessive compulsiveness when they have specific thoughts. The individual may stay for awhile without eating excessively. However, when they experience a stressful situation, they descend on the food with a vengeance. This could be repeated severally, resulting in the individual having digestive problems, weight issues, among other health problems.
NeuroticismNeurotic individuals have been found to have a higher chance of having negative emotions. This pushes them to consume food based on their emotional experiences. Therefore, individuals with a higher level of neuroticism tend to have a higher BMI (Fitzsimmons-Craft, Keatts, & Bardone-Cone, 2013). Such individuals also exhibit a higher rate of dietary problems such as the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, an individual with high levels of neuroticism will have a tendency to experience comfort eating. This is where the individual in question keeps consuming foods high in fat and processed sugars. The individual eats less fruits and may eat even after they are full. The individual’s reward system has it that when they eat certain types of food, they are going to feel better. Therefore, these individuals end up with excessive weight problems. They also experience an increase in other underweight issues. Neuroticism may influence an individual’s tendency to feel pressure not to eat. Therefore, neuroticism is a psychological disorder that influences one’s tendency towards an eating disorder.
ConscientiousnessIndividuals who are low in conscientiousness have been found to have a higher chance in exhibiting eating disorders. Conscientious individuals tend to limit the fat, salt, and manufactured sugars that they consume (Welch, Ghader, & Swenne, 2015). These individuals also exhibit a tendency to have a higher chance of reducing the amount of alcohol that they consume. This, coupled with the healthy eating of fruits, ensures that the individual continues to improve their eating habits. However, individuals on the other end of this spectrum have been found to exhibit habits that negatively impact their health. The individuals who have a poor eating habit tend to be less conscientious. These individuals also exhibit a lower cognitive function, thus exhibit habits that limit their ability to limit their consumption of high-fat content foods. These individuals also have a tendency towards consuming high salt and sugar foods. An increase in conscientiousness increases one’s reduction in indulgence.
ExtroversionExtroversion is a psychological condition where an individual has a higher social mental function in comparison to other people. The individual’s mental reward system suggests that the individual needs to be more empathetic to the people around him/her. Extroverts have often exhibited a higher BMI in comparison to other people (Clausen, Lübeck, & Jones, 2013). Extroverts have trouble interacting with people of multiple personal traits. This results in inconsistent feeling. This can cause stress in the individual. The result of such feelings is that push them towards a need for a reward. Extroverts have also been found to have a higher reward receptive system in comparison to other people. Therefore, the individual may partake in unhealthy habits when experiencing stress.
Core Low Self EsteemA core low self-esteem could be caused by the other psychological problems. However, it is common among individuals with eating disorders. Therefore, the individual tends to seclude, withdraw, and exhibit habits that limit their ability to control their eating habits. A low self-esteem can be explained in the case of anorexia by the fact that an individual takes extreme measures with the aim of improving their self-esteem. The individual may be spurred into action by a simple comment on their weight (Cardi et al., 2015). This is also the case in bulimia and binge eating. Once an individual remembers the circumstances surrounding their appearance, they may expel the food they have just eaten or increase the amount of food consumed. When such mental patterns are repeated consistently, the individual eventually develops an eating disorder. This then results to other health issues which are closely related with poor eating habits.
Agreeableness Less agreeable people are more likely to have a higher BMI in comparison to individuals with agreeable personalities. The less agreeable psychological problem is closely associated with rebelling against accepted ways of controlling their weight. Therefore, less agreeable people are more likely to be obese. Agreeable people, on the other hand, have been found to follow the precise rules in making sure that their weight is put in check (Cardi et al., 2015). However, it has also been found that more agreeable individuals are more likely to have the tendency to be realistic and open. This results in them being more likely to consume vegetables, and other healthy foods. This is particularly the case among teenagers. Therefore, this is a psychological issue that can contribute to one’s ability to manage their eating disorder.
Family of Origin PsychologyFamily of origin is a new concept with regards to eating disorders. Psychologically, an individual’s mental patterns are initially influenced by their parents. As the individual grows up into an adult, they may exhibit their parent’s psychological patterns (Welch, Ghader, & Swenne, 2015). The individual may adopt their parent’s attitudes as well as unhealthy habits. This results in the child becoming overtly unhealthy if they copy unhealthy eating habits. For instance, a teenage daughter may pick on their mother’s tendency to have an unhealthy body image. This may include constant calorie counting. Studies have shown that parents may instill an inferiority complex within their children. This may result in the child be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.
OpennessThis is a psychological factor that is associated with eating disorders in that open individuals are more likely to lose weight. This is closely with an individual’s tendency to be agreeable. Openness ensures that the individual can take advice on eating habits (Mangweth-Matzek et al., 2014). The individual can take different opinions regarding eating habits. This is especially true for individuals who have cultural habits that influence them into bad eating habits. For instance, Estonians have been known to have a staple diet of meat, potatoes, and bread. This diet obviously contributed towards obesity and diabetes. An open individual can have a different diet despite such a cultural background.
6.0 ConclusionPsychology is a key factor in one’s tendency to have or not to have an eating disorder. The psychological conditions mentioned in this research paper identify the importance of psychology in eating disorders. The research has identified different psychological conditions that are closely related with eating disorders. However, it has become evident that having any one of these conditions is not a sentencing to having an eating disorder. The psychological conditions only increase chances of having an eating disorder. Therefore, like any other disease, identify these psychological conditions at an early stage ensures that one can manage themselves effectively.
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Fitzsimmons-Craft, E., Keatts, D., & Bardone-Cone, A. (2013). Eating Expectancies in Relation to Eating Disorder Recovery. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 37(5), 1041-1047. doi:10.1007/s10608-013-9522-7.
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