Anorexia Nervosa

Learning Objective Question:
Do role models encourage anorexia
because they lead to teenagers
wanting to be impossibly thin?
Learning Approach
Lesson objectives
• To be able to answer a key issue question-on
anorexia nervosa
• To be able to describe and evaluate a
treatment for anorexia nervosa
• To understand the methodology section of LA
and recap all prior learning
Anorexia and anorexia nervosa
• Technically "anorexia" just means a loss of
appetite, whereas anorexia nervosa is an eating
disorder. In practice though, the vast majority of
people just say "anorexia" because it's shorter.
• Bulimia nervosa is… having episodes of binge
eating. This is followed by deliberately making
themselves sick (self-induced vomiting) or other
measures to counteract the excessive food intake.
What about makes?
Jeremy Gillitzer (Died aged 38
Eating Disorders
• The main two types of eating disorders are
Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.
• Do you know what the differences are?
• You only need to know anorexia nervosa.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
• Refusal to eat and maintain a minimum
average expected body weight.
• Fear of gaining weight
• Distorted body image
• Amenorrhea (absence of at least three
consecutive menstrual cycles)
• Weight less than 85% of expected
Learning Approach-Social Learning
• SLT suggests anorexia nervosa may be due to
role models in the media.
• Young people may feel they have to get to
around the same weight as thin celebrities in
order to be accepted
Social Learning Theory
• Teenagers pay attention to the fact that many
celebrity role models are extremely thin.
• They retain this information.
• They have the ability to reproduce being thin if
they diet excessively and will do it if they are
motivated to do so.
• They can see that their role models are famous
and rich and this may motivate them to be thin
too. Teenagers may think that being thin is what
is needed to be rich and famous or even just
Evaluation of the Learning Approach
+ Lai (2000) found that the rate of
anorexia increased for chinese
residents in Hong Kong as the
culture slowly became more
+Crisp et al. (1976) found that
dancers and fashion models were
more likely to develop anorexia
+Mumford et al. (1991) found that
Arab and Asian women were
more likely to develop eating
disorders if they moved to the
Doesn’t explain why the
disorder usually develops in
- Everyone sees the pictures
of slim people, so why is it
only some of the population
develop an eating disorder?
- There are psychodynamic
explanations for anorexia
nervosa such as fear of
growing up and family
Key Issue-Describe the issue
• Do role models
encourage anorexia
because they lead to
teenagers wanting to be
impossibly thin?
• 1 in 100 girls said to suffer from
an eating disorder
• 8% of 14 year old girls happy with
their bodies
• Different explanations from each
psychodynamic, cognitive etc.
• Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham
said by 95% of girls in a survey to
be most influential role model
Explain the issue using L.A
• SLT suggests that people imitate role models, especially those they
see as relevant to themselves.
• One concept from the learning approach is identification.
• When someone identifies with a role model they are likely to
imitate their behaviour.
• It is therefore likely that teenage girls will imitate female models
and media celebrities where there is a trend to be very slim.
• Studies by Bandura have shown that girls copy female models and
boys copy male models, so if female role models are slim then girls
are likely to want to be slim.
• If someone observes behaviour but does not identify with the role
model they are not so likely to perform the behaviour.
• Girls who want to be slim are likely to stop eating and can develop
eating disorders such as anorexia.
Explain the issue using L.A
• Another concept from the learning approach
is reinforcement.
• If a role model is reinforced for being slim,
such as being praised, paid more or featured a
lot in the media, then they might be imitated
Explain the issue using L.A
• Studies by Bandura have shown that behaviour that is rewarded is
likely to be imitated more, such as in vicarious learning.
• There is also negative reinforcement for being fat, through criticism
and teasing, to avoid being teased, fat children might starve
themselves to slim down which may turn into anorexia.
• So not wanting to be fat to avoid criticism and wanting to be slim to
get praise, might be two types of reinforcement that help to explain
• However, anorexia could also be explained in a different way.
• The psychodynamic approach suggests that a girl might starve
herself to avoid growing up (adults sexual role) because she is
fixated at a certain psychosexual stage.
Explain the issue using L.A
• As well as this, support comes from the work of
Bandura whose research can be criticised as
lacking validity as it was carried out in an
unnatural setting and used unnatural conditions
• Nevertheless anorexia is found around the world
between different cultures and cross cultural
studies support the idea that anorexia is learned.
Biological explanation:
• One theory is that the system controlling a person’s sense of
appetite becomes disrupted.
• The primary setting of many of these abnormalities originate in a
the limbic system.
• A specific system called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA)
may be particularly important in eating disorders.
• It originates in the following regions in the brain:
• Hypothalamus.
• The hypothalamus is a small structure that plays a role in controlling
our behavior, such as eating, sexual behavior and sleeping, and
regulates body temperature, emotions, secretion of hormones, and
• Appetite is controlled by the hypothalamus.
• When your body needs more food, your hypothalamus releases
chemicals to stimulate your appetite.
Biological explanation:
• Once you have eaten enough food, hormones
signal to your hypothalamus.
• Your hypothalamus will then release a different
set of chemicals that essentially reward you for
eating, and make you feel satisfied.
• It is thought that this ‘appetite-reward pathway’
becomes scrambled in people with anorexia.
• The feeling of fullness after a meal does not
produce a sense of reward, but a sense of
anxiety, guilt or self-loathing.
• In turn, feeling hungry may help reduce these
negative feelings.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Summarise)
• Here is the one we completed from Autism… It
may help.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Describe)
(here you are describing the issue without using
• A condition that children develop rather than a
• Child is generally unable to empathise with
others or love and emotion (explain why this is a
• Low IQ.
• There is an autistic spectrum, including
Aspergers, Syndrome, High functioning and low
functioning autism.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Describe)
• Have a high systemising ability, sometimes in the
form of an obsession (staring, memorising).
• Males are better at systemising and less good at
emotions (girls like dolls, boys like building toys –
girls quieter, boys play roughly – girls more
verbal, boys more spatial)
• At the end say that ‘there are lots of research
suggesting that autism could be linked to the
male brain’…
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Application)
(here you explain the issue using concepts and ideas
from the biological approach – explanation rests on the
ideas that autism is an extreme version of the male
• Males seem to use their right hemisphere more, so
more lateralised – girls more bi-lateral.
• Boys brains grow more quickly than girls – autistic
children (b & g) show this to an extreme degree.
• The amygdala (where emotional reactions are centered
including aggression) is larger in young children.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Application)
• Male foetuses produce testosterone in their
testes and females in their adrenal glands –
girls could be exposed to high levels of
• Normal males have a smaller corpus callosum
than normal females. In people with autism
the corpus callosum is even smaller.
• Is this supported by any research?
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• Baron-Cohen (2005) suggests that the brain
structure of an autistic person is an
exaggeration of normal male brain structure.
• He argues that there are many similarities
between the brain structure of an autistic
person and the brain structure of a normal
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• Baron-Cohen (2005) suggests that the brain
structure of an autistic person is an
exaggeration of normal male brain structure.
• He argues that there are many similarities
between the brain structure of an autistic
person and the brain structure of a normal
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• One study carried out by BC’s team showed girls
are more empathising and boys more orientated
to systems.
• 1-day-old babies set so they could look at either
researchers face or a ball.
• 43% boys looked at the ball for 10 seconds longer
than the face.
• 17% of girls looked at the ball for 10 seconds
longer than the face.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• Studies generally show that women are better
at making eye contact and better at
understanding body language than men.
• Women are better at social contact, linked to
testosterone levels in developing foetus.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• Other research…. Baron-Cohen, Leslie, Frith (1985)
• Theory of mind is the ability to understand your own and
other peoples belief, desires, intentions and perspectives.
• Where will Sally look for her marble? The TOM BIG
- In the study 80% of autistic children got the wrong (4/20
got it correct) .
- 14% of children with Downs Syndrome got it wrong (12/14
got it correct).
- 15% of a typical child got it wrong (23/27 got it right)
- What does this demonstrate about the issue?
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• Other research…. Baron-Cohen, S., Jollife, T.,
Mortimore, C. & Robertson, M. (1997)
• Another advanced test of theory of mind:
evidence from very high functioning adults with
autism or Asperger syndrome.
• Mean score on the Eye Task
- Adults with autism or Asperger syndrome = 16.3
- 'Normal' adults = 20.3
- Adults with Tourette syndrome = 20.4
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Research)
• So clearly an extreme version of the male brain
(keep referring back to the key issue)… this is
backed up by physiological evidence…
• Herbert looked very carefully at autistic children's
brains on MRI scans. She noticed their brains
were bigger than those of children who did not
have autism 2.
• Biological evidence backing up psychological
concept as observed in BC…
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Critisise)
• What are the problems with the research into
autism (BC and autopsies)?
• Mind map with a partner…
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Other
• Genetic stance - Research using twins has found a
concordance rate of 60-90% for autism in monozygotic
twins, but only 5% in dizygotic twins.
• Genetic stance - Autism may be undiagnosed PKU-a
genetic disorder not an extreme male brain condition.
• Environmental stance - Greenspan (2009), neglect is
one of the causes for autism. Scientific studies have
shown that neglect causes changes in brain physiology:
- A direct link between neglect in baby rats and autisticlike symptoms in their offspring, along with genetic
changes that perpetuate the symptoms in the
offspring's offspring.
D.A.R.C.O.C. – (Conclusion)
- Explain that although nothing is conclusive
you think….

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