Eating Disorders: Just Dying to be Perfect Essay

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As the "ideal" women’s body has become progressively thinner over the past decades, the eating disorder anorexia has become progressively more prevalent. Anorexia is a disease in which a person eats nothing beyond minimal amounts of food so that her body weight drops dangerously. It is no wonder with all of the cultural messages of thinness being aimed at women, that 90-95% of anorexics are female, 25.7% of all female ballet dancers are anorexic, and that the percentages are similarly high for female models and athletes (Malson, 1998). Six to eight percent of young women have been diagnosed. For some the disease takes a devastating and irreversible course; 20% of anorexic patients will die and as many as half of those will be from suicide …show more content…
Frank (1991) found that women with eating disorders experience more shame and guilt in relation to eating than do either normal or depressed women. She concluded that shame and guilt differentiate eating pathology from other forms of psychopathology.

However, specific connections between shame, the media, attributional style, self-esteem, and the development and maintenance of an eating disorder are not well explored in the literature. In other words, it is documented that shame and guilt do play a role in eating disorders, but the exact nature of that role in terms of the clinical underpinnings of the disorder is unclear. Therefore, the paper’s scope will be in part a literature review, and in part a theoretical speculation from the literature.

The research linking anorexia to depression, control, perfectionism, body image distortion, and family structures is fairly abundant, however, while reading it one may feel that there is a mediating factor that is missing in the discussion. It was not until trying to formulate an idea for this paper that I realized "shame" might be the missing link. Shame and guilt may be the emotions undermining the characteristics related to the disorder, and therefore, the disorder itself. This leads me to the hypothesis; mainly that shame and guilt play a mediational, if not a central role, in eating
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