Eating and Addiction: Anorexia Nervosa Essay

Eating and Addiction: Anorexia Nervosa Essay

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Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. At first, the symptoms do not seem serious. Sufferers will grow a downy layer of hair all over their bodies to compensate for having virtually no body fat. Blackouts become common. Long hair that had been coveted comes out in the shower (Arnold). And yet when the victim looks in the mirror, they see themselves as they looked before they were stricken with the disease. While anorexia nervosa is often equated with a pathological fear of losing control and hence gaining weight, no one is really certain exactly how it works. However, there is a link between having addiction problems and anorexia nervosa.
In Decoding Anorexia by Carrie Arnold, a young girl suffering from anorexia nervosa and drug addiction says, “Anorexia is addictive…the seeds for the alcoholism were planted with the anorexia” (Arnold 81). While psychiatrists and scientists can work for decades on trying to uncover the roots of mental illnesses, it is really the words of the patients that show how such illnesses work. The words of Angela, the patient, show how the patient thinks. However, biological roots can be important in estimating a person’s likelihood of developing an eating disorder. According to Arnold, a malfunction of the insula is critical in the development of anorexia nervosa. The insula is the part of the brain that regulates anxiety. In addition, it keeps track of “the internal state of our bodies…hunger, thirst, body temperature, pain, disgust, and emotion state” (Arnold 28). The question is, why does this part of the brain malfunction? The fact that anxiety and the part of the body that regulates hunger is significant. When the insula malfunctions, anxiety levels become much high...


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...lfman. "Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association." Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

Doba, Karyn, et al. "Is There A Family Profile Of Addictive Behaviors? Family Functioning In Anorexia Nervosa And Drug Dependence Disorder." Journal Of Clinical Psychology 70.1 (2014): 107-117. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Kaye, Walter H., Christina E. Wierenga, Ursula F. Bailer, Alan N. Simmons, Angela Wagner, and Amanda Bischoff-Grethe. "Does a Shared Neurobiology for Foods and Drugs of Abuse Contribute to Extremes of Food Ingestion in Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa?" Biological Psychiatry 73.9 (2013): 836-42. ScienceDirect. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

Pipher, Mary Bray. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. New York: Putnam, 1994. Print.

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