Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Eating, Bulimia, Psychology, Disorders, Women, Life, Behavior, Body

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/30

Introduction

Does being thin and pretty define a person with a beautiful and a kind character? The answer would probably be, no. Some of the lines that an individual encounters in life relating to body image; ‘Mother, I do not want to go to school because everyone makes fun of the way I look.’ ‘Ma’am, this size is not for you.’ ‘I want to break up with you, and I deserve a pretty, slim girl.’ The society heavily relies on the concept of the ideals of beauty; it creates pressure amongst individuals, especially women, their worth based on physical appearance. Consequently, in order to survive and to achieve better, people choose for rigid methods such as strict dieting and induced vomiting. Instead, on doing the right thing to make life better or perfect, it results in a miserable life. The issue on bulimia becomes one of the interests in the society and the existence of the beauty ideals correspond to some strict measures set by individuals. It increases the attention of the clinicians who seek some relational understanding of eating disorders. The eating disorders can be traced to childhood and the issue can be solved sometimes, with a lot of efforts. The dysfunctions of the family and the social pressures can result in extremely negative perspectives, manifested in the full struggle with bulimia for years.

Symptoms and Behaviors of Bulimics

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5 that, “bulimia can be diagnosed considering the existing symptoms of the patient”. The symptoms are (1) recurrent episodes of binge eating that is prevalent for almost three months; (2) excessive use of compensatory behavior to avoid weight gain in terms of fasting, induced vomiting or excessive exercising for almost three months; (3) self-evaluation is highly based on the body image and body weight; and (4) intake of laxatives or enemas. A bulimic person experiences a painful period in life; a broken tooth, scarred hands, and a dehydrated body with constant purging. Bulimics resort to behaviors for running away from inferiority without deep realizations that their practices are harmful to their health. Research shows that, “the prevalence rate of full or partial eating disorders for men is 2 percent and women, 4.8 percent,” respectively. Bulimics can testify, especially women that they go through it incessantly. Bulimics can be identified through the behaviors they do or some behavioral changes such as binge eating, vomiting, using laxatives, eating while alone and avoiding food while in public. Other behavioral changes are self-isolation, obsession with body image and weight, excessive exercising, self-harm or self-inflicted pain, and erratic behavior like spending huge amounts of food and meals.

Psychosocial Issues

The repetitive contemplations about losing weight and throwing up are controlled by bulimia. The life of a bulimic rotates constantly on the practices of consuming or getting rid of food. Commonly, bulimics do not like the way they look and giving more efforts to reduce their body weight. Psychologically, bulimics have issues on frequent mood changes, continuous persistent thought of food, low self-esteem, loneliness and feeling of no control, anxiety, paranoia, and suicidal tendencies.

Societal Issues

Bulimics often feel uncertainties and have the negative outlook on life; bulimia destroys their identities by taking away their entire personality. Due to societal pressure and norms, bulimics choose to isolate themselves from others, especially women. They have a worst feeling of loneliness that leads to suicidal attempts as a core of a bulimic life. Bulimics tend to distant themselves from other people, they easily feel irritated with the presence of others, and they extremely require binging and purging. They often feel very helpless and unpredictable with the people around them; they strongly believe that no one can understand the real person inside them. Consequently, bulimics are facing severe isolation and depression.

Developmental Issues

In the psychological stages, Erikson presented that, “the development relates to the connection between emotional needs and the social environment of individuals”. Erickson added that, “the stage of adolescence is a crucial stage of life where individuals have to face the quest with identity and role confusion”. The adolescents search their identity and seek some answers from different areas in the society. In addition, during adolescence, they need social acceptance among their peers. Physical changes are linked with the transformation of the adolescents’ psychological stages. Puberty marked the individual development of the adolescents that possibly occurs and leads to eating disorder such as bulimia. Adolescents realize that their role in making personal decisions and taking responsibility are crucial for their personal development. However, at times they experience separation that leads to anxiety and depression. It happens when there is no true acceptance from their peers. Every adolescent needs a strong relationship with other people in the society. It means that following the norms have the ideal images of significant stages necessary for the development. The resolution of identity depends on the ability or the counterpart that interacts with the environment. The search for identity is associated with the concepts to improve the image, social acceptance, self-worth, and self-consciousness. The failure to develop the factors that help improve oneself result to self-destruction.
Individuals differ in characteristics, some have high self-esteem, but others do not. Others have good relationships with friends, but others prefer to be alone. According to a research that, “the behavior of some adolescents vary from the family they have, especially how they are treated by their parents or relatives” . Particularly, females or women are trying to achieve the ideal beauty portrayed by the society or media. The ideal beauty portrayed especially by the media is sometimes frustrating because not all women can do or afford with the augmentations or reductions necessary to enhance their beauty or some parts of their body. It implies that the more women undergo changes, the more they become frustrated or confused if they did not achieve what they expect.
During late adolescence, the problem of eating disorder begins. Media has influenced the minds of the individuals that caused confusions and gradually developed the eating disorders. The issue is closely related to psychological health problems because of its wide range of effects to the individuals suffering from the condition. Parents play an important role to assist their children, and children need some proper guidance when they seek attachment and security to the people they think closer to them. Research shows that, “the eating disorder is constituted by attachment patterns” . One of the attachment patterns is the parental conflicts that result to insecurity; it triggers eating disorders, bulimia. Considering the first stage of Erikson’s psychosocial theory; trust versus mistrust that explicitly describes the concept of attachment. Gradually, this sense of trust continues to flourish in future relationships .

Gender Implications

Binge eating, purging, weight loss regime, and body dissatisfaction is more common amongst women as compared to men. It implies that women are bulimics than men do; however, men are more involved in overeating habits. Survey shows that “women lack control when it comes to the type and quantity of food they consumed in a meal”. In addition, gender difference exists in relation to bulimia and other eating disorders; both males and females suffer from eating problems. Statistics shows that one in every five women and one in every ten men check their body size regularly. Culturally, body checking and avoidance is more common for women as compared to men. Bulimia is a result of cultural norms and societal pressure instead of innate body dissatisfaction.
It is evident that there are 60 percent of female bulimics compared to 40 percent of males who were involved in losing weight and maintaining the current weight. In addition, difference also exists in terms of race and ethnicity; black women used laxatives and induced vomits prevalently as compared to white women. However, there is no significant racial or ethnic difference recorded for men in terms of bulimic or eating behavior. Despite the difference in the rate of eating disorder based on gender, men also face similar problems as women do. It means that bulimic is possible to develop among men with some issues such as social phobia, anxiety disorders, depression and other related conditions. One of the major reasons for bulimia is the societal pressure made by the media. Both men and women are aware of the modern demand for the ideal body images that is directly related to the social acceptance in the society (Woodside et al., 2001).

Cultural Implication

Every culture has its significant role or involvement in the issue on bulimia. For example, in the United States, a beauty pageant contestant follows the ideal size of the body before she joins the competition. Bulimia is culturally bound as it is prevalent in certain cultures. Culture is an etiological factor that leads to the development of eating disorders (Klump & Keel, 2003). Eating disorders or bulimia has always been a prevalent issue all over the world. In the previous researches, the eating disorder is known as a form of self-starvation accompanied by the abnormal eating behaviors; however, today, the societal pressure has given it a new form, bulimia. Similarly, eating disorders persist among the African Americans who are now influenced by advertisements such as magazines or social media. The print media portrays the ideal beauty image reflecting the thinness and links everything such as relationships, career, and all other aspects of life. As a result, individuals opt for extreme dieting, binging and purging; methods to achieve these ideally accepted images.

Risks

There are several risks associated with Bulimia Nervosa with its early symptoms involving heartburn, indigestion and sore throat. Eventually, the change in the rate of heart beat makes the bulimics more prone to the risk of heart attacks and heart failures. Severely, the risks associated with bulimics develop inflammation or ulcers common with women; infertility or abnormal menstrual cycle. However, the condition can be prevented and treated accordingly. For example, the personal account coherently testifies or depicts the prevention, treatment, and recovery of a bulimic.
“From its innocuous beginning when I was thirteen, it took me on a journey of violent self-abuse that brought me to the edge of complete self-destruction. It left me sophistically damaged that I required two life-altering surgeries and, as a result, I am reminded every day of the road I have traveled. Along the way, my cries for help went unheard or were misunderstood and my utter reliance on and immersion in my disease eclipsed and overshadowed everything else. It was not until nearly a quarter century of living every aspect of my life through this disease that I found the strength, inspiration, and support to seek help that finally brought me into recovery and enabled me to live without my most enduring companion, bulimia”.

Reflection of the Personal Account

The personal account shows that she struggled with her condition early in life. She was intensely insecure about herself. There are many dysfunctional factors that happened in her life from the family and other people around her and are extremely sensitive. She sought assistance at almost low points of her life; bulimia has no boundaries ad she was willing to do anything to purge and binge regardless of how degrading the situation was. Her intense relationship with her eating disorder had costs her entire life being indulged with it badly. After she realized that it was time to change, she finally embarked her journey to recovery; it was the perfect time to act. There was a glimmer of hope that she could change maturely and decided to recover from her condition. She was well-motivated by the important people around her, family and the therapist. Most of the people around her believed that she could recover, and eventually, she did. According to her, “for the first time in my life, I felt that there were people who really believed that I could possibly recover and my recovery was very important to them, especially to my husband and my therapist, and indeed, I as a person was very important to them. They really helped me a lot whenever my journey was tough as it often does during the early recovery” .

Treatment

Bulimia is a very big problem that obviously appears to be very crucial; all about weight loss and eating patterns. However, it is more complex than anyone can imagine because it is closely connected to the overall well-being and the concept of self-worth and identity. During the treatment of the eating disorder, the patient must acknowledge and realize what he or she is suffering a lot through it. Recovery involves listening to the body, mind and feelings and incorporates the essence of loving oneself. It all begins with asking for help, gaining support from friends, family members, or therapists. Treatment with the help of a specialist may require a proper treatment plan based on medical monitoring, family therapy, counseling, and education. One of the most beneficial treatment options is the cognitive-behavioral therapy; it eliminates the negative thoughts pertaining to food and body. With relaxation techniques and cognitive-behavioral therapy, the condition can be extensively treated. Although the society may influence the behavior, still, eating problems can be treated and aided with some positive views of all aspects.

Conclusion

Bulimia is an eating disorder that is widely prevalent amongst men and women. The societal ideals and the media play a major role in the development of Bulimia. The condition is associated with parental conflicts and the hesitation to leave familial dependence. The constant habit of binge eating, purging and the intake of laxatives and enema, it destroys the individuals making them socially distant, depressed, and isolated. When life appears to be miserable because of bulimia, the person needs a serious help. The cognitive-behavioral therapy assisted with relaxation techniques, and through the ability to love oneself is best way to recover from bulimia. Also, the increase of self-worth, bulimics can certainly lead life like other individuals do.

Reference

Field, E. A., Colditz, G., & Peterson, E. K. (1997). Racial/ethnic and gender differences in concern with weight and in bulimic behaviors among adolescents. Obes Res, 5(5), 447-54.
Golden, J. (2005). Learning To Be Me: My Twenty-Three-Year Battle with Bulimia. Lincoln: iUniverse.
Keel, P. K., & Klump, K. L. (2003). Are eating disorders culture-bound syndromes? Implications for conceptualizing their etiology. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 747-769. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.129.5.747
Kupfer, D., & Regier, D. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and Validation of Eco-Identity Status. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3(5), 551-558. doi:10.1037/h0023281
Striegel-Moore, R. H., Rosselli, F., Perrin, N., DeBar, L., Wilson, G. T., May, A., & Kraemer, H. C. (2009). Gender Difference in the Prevalence of Eating Disorder Symptoms. Int J Eat Disord, 42(5), 471– 474. doi:10.1002/eat.20625
Telch, C. F., Agras, W. S., & Linehan, M. M. (2001). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder. Journal of Consulting and clinical Psychology(69), 1061-1065. doi:10.1037//0022-006X.69.6.1061
Woodside, D. B., Garfinkel, P. E., Lin, E., Goering, P., Kaplan, A. S., Goldbloom, D. S., & Kennedy, S. H. (2001). Comparisons of Men With Full or Partial Eating Disorders, Men Without Eating Disorders, and Women With Eating Disorders in the Community. Am J Psychiatry, 158, 570–574.
Zachrisson, H. D., & Skarderud, F. (2010). Feelings of Insecurity: Review of Attachment and Eating Disorders. Eur. Eat. Disorders Rev, 18, 97-106 .

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