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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Hee-hee. I was just reading my sister's blog and decided to start another one of my own, and then I saw I already have this one, and it's been exactly a year since I wrote. :)
I'm taking a psych 1 class this semester. It's not really the most exciting psych class ever, but it is interesting. However, at our last class meeting we were going over the chapter in the book that talks about eating disorders, and the teacher barely even glossed over them, getting all kinds of things wrong in the process. It very much irritated me. I know that since that's my "niche" I'm much more knowledgable about eds than the average person, but it's not that hard to get your facts right. So here are my corrections, and some basic ed info.
Contrary to popular belief, there are not only 2 main types of eating disorders. There are actually 4, which are classified as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive overeating, and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). EDNOS is the most common, and includes chronic dieters as well as those who have eating disorders that can't be diagnosed (in order to be diagnosably anorexic, you have to be at least 25% below your lowest healthy body weight, and, if you're a girl, have stopped menstruating). About 93% of females over age 9 are EDNOS, because the definition also includes those who are obsessed with weight and/or body image, those who exercise excessively, etc.
Anorexia nervosa is intentionally starving yourself with the intention of losing weight. Some studies show that it is not necessarily a psychological disorder; sometimes it is actually a chemical imbalance (serotonin affects your appetite). Anorectics typically have extremely low self-esteem, have trouble feeling emotions, cannot accept compliments, think that they're fat even when they are excruciatingly thin, and enjoy cooking for others.
Bulimics binge and purge. They will eat huge amounts of food, (I've heard of cases where a person will eat 50,000 calories in one binge, covering a time period of about 8 hours), then purge it from their systems through vomiting, laxatives, exercise, or a combination of any of the three.
Compulsive overeaters also binge, but without the purging that bulimics use. This is considered an ed because it usually involves emotional eating-that is, eating to fill some kind of void. Where anorectics starve themselves so that they will feel something, compulsive overeaters eat to smother their pain.
There is another misconception that eds are a psychological problem. This is actually not the case. Eds are merely a symptom of the problem, manifesting through the psyche, which could be any one of a number of things. Most eds begin either at the beginning or the end of puberty (age 9-13, or 18-25), two periods of drastic life and physical changes.
Eds are somewhat romanticized by the media and our thoughts-people think, oh, to lose weight I'll just be anorexic for a few weeks. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Eds are really serious problems-they can be equated with drug addictions in how they take hold of you physically and mentally. The main difference is that drug addictions are actually easier to overcome than eds; you can avoid drugs, situations with drugs, and drug dealers, but you can't really avoid food. A recovering anorectic, for instance, is presented 3 times a day every day with an opportunity to relapse. And as far as the media goes, the coverage of Mary Kate Olsen's ed disgusted and saddened me. Any time an actress gains an ounce, tabloids are all over her, speculating on whether she's pregnant or unhappy, talking about how awful she looks, and then when she's a little too thin, they're all over her for that. It's a very thin line. Those recovering from eds are already going through enough; they certainly don't need their picture up everywhere.
And that's all I have to say about THAT, for right now.
My other class this semester is American Sign Language, and I LOVE it! My teacher is completely deaf; for the first hour of the first day of class we had an interpreter, and since then we've been on our own. It's actually a really good way to learn, I think; we learn a lot faster, although it's a little bit frustrating at times. I'd like to be able to have a real conversation with him, not one that's a few signs thrown into my finger spelling of words whose signs I don't yet know. Anyway, I'm really happy that ASL is beginning to take off in the hearing world-it's a good skill to have, and it's actually a much more effective form of communication than verbal speech.


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