A big issue in society today that is mentioned in the Lillienfield text is that of anorexia nervosa. Anorexia, although less common than bulimia, still affects between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of the population, according to the text. It is also considered the most life-threatening of all psychological disorders. It is a devastating disease that is characterized by an individual's extreme desire to lose weight and to be thin.
Some research studies suggest that anorexia results from previous experiences in which an individual lost of control over an aspect of his or her life. In these instances, anorexia is used as a form of control - an individual can control the amount of food that goes into his or her body.
However, there are other studies which suggest that other things, such as media and advertising, influence the presence of anorexia among individuals. The reasoning behind this idea is that clinics are beginning to see younger and younger children being admitted for anorexic behavior, and it is unlikely for children this young to have had experiences with extreme lack of control over their lives that are significant enough to trigger anorexia. The video below is about Dana, an eight-year-old girl who is anorexic. It is a long video, but I highly recommend watching all of it. The clinic personnel interviewed in the video discuss how terrifying it is that such young children are being admitted for treatment, and that this leads them to believe that media has a tremendous affect on the minds of young girls like Dana. The patients that are interviewed, including Dana, discuss what caused them to become anorexic and their own thoughts and feelings towards their disease.
Having been a sufferer of anorexia and anorexic tendencies myself, I believe that anorexia is not a choice; it is a disease. I believe that both studies discussed above are correct; some anorexics are influenced by past experiences, some are influenced by everyday media, and some are influenced by both. I was (and still am) influenced by both. My junior year of high school, I had an experience which I will not go into details about, but which caused me to feel a lack of control over my own body. Since then, I have been fighting with myself to regain control, psychologically, of myself. Sometimes I feel like if I can control every single aspect of my life now, it will somehow help me regain the control I lost that one day during my junior year of high school. I know that will never happen, but that's what it feels like. These thoughts are then paired every day with media advertisements that suggest that thin is beautiful and that the thinner a person is, the more beautiful they are. When the two are put together, it triggers anorexic tendencies in me, and I believe that many other people suffer in the same way. It sounds really cliche, but the media really does have a huge psychological impact on people.
A few things I am currently wondering about anorexia are if the average age of an anorexic child admitted to the hospital will continue to go down, and if there will be more anorexia-awareness campaigns in the future. I also wonder if there will be any government action taken to ban pro-anorexia websites or campaigns in the United States or elsewhere.