The Causality and Development of Bulimia

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There are several different theories about the causality and development of bulimia. Bulimia may have a genetic and hereditary component aswell as a socio-environmental component. Other psychological factors involved include mood disorders and substance abuse in families of people with bulimia. One aspect of the biological perspective suggests that people with bulimia have a low serotonin level which is a brain chemical involved with both well-being and appetite. It was also suggested that a low central dopamine level was correlated with abnormal responses to food. Jimmerson et al investigated this perspective. Cerebrospinal fluid neurotransmitter metabolite levels were studied to assess whether measures of central serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine function are associated with severity of abnormal eating patterns in patients with bulimia nervosa. In comparison with healthy controls , hospitalized bulimic patients with a history of binge eating more frequently than twice daily had significantly lower CSF concentrations of these brain chemicals. For the total patient group, levels of both chemicals were significantly inversely correlated with binge frequency. This may be due to the fact that low levels of serotonin are related to causing cravings for carbohydrates and subsequent binge eating. Another biological model is known as the ‘set-point’ theory (Keesey and Corbett 1984). They suggested that a part of the brain called the lateral hypothalamas which is responsible for feelings of hunger and satiety may be imbalanced in Bulimic people. According to the theory, as an individual diets and loses weight, activity in the hypoth... ... middle of paper ... social pressure, thinness and weight loss are proritised and a person’s self-worth becomes based upon maintaining a low weight and striving to become thin. This process is known as a weight-related self-schema and once this is established in a person all thoughts and feelings are centralised around weight and shape. This then usually develops into a fully- fledged eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. Other influences in the development of this schema that is evident in the case study may derive from the fact that Carla’s sister had recovered from Anorexia Nervosa. As this is an eating disorder a great emphasis would have been placed on weight within Carla’s family during her sisters illness and probably thereafter Subsequently this exposure may have contributed to the development of her bulimia.

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