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Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Essay

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Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder




Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder often found in young adolescent women, that has been characterized by a distorted attitude towards weight and body image, a set of behaviors calculated to produce weight loss and other physiological and psychological symptoms. Physiological symptoms include (according to the DSM III- R criteria) starvation, amenorrhoea, and a refusal to maintain weight above 85% of their ideal weight. Psychological symptoms include an obsessive pursuit of thinness, along with obvious body preoccupation, and an incessant rumination about food. In addition, they are also engaged in compulsive calorie counting and excessive physical exercise. The personality of the anorexic is characterized as stereotypically rigid, ritualistic, perfectionistic and meticulous. This ritualism takes its form in eating patterns. For example an anorexic may cut her food into tiny pieces and weigh every piece of food before she eats it. These behaviors can be found in people who are on a normal, healthy diet, but in anorexics these behaviors are extremely exaggerated, in part because the act of dieting has become exaggerated. Anorexics also commonly have obsessions and compulsions related to symmetry and order.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), one of the anxiety disorders, is a potentially disabling condition that can persist throughout a person's life. Those who suffer from OCD become trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing. Some of the main components of OCD are obsessions, compulsions and insight into behavior. Obsessions are unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in the mind of the person...


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Fahy, TA, Osacar, A, Marks, I (1993): History of Eating Disorders in female patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders 14: 439-443.

Garfinkel, PE and Garner DM, (1982): Anorexia Nervosa: A Multidimensional Perspective. Brunner Mazel: New York.

Matsunaga, H, Kiriike, N, Iwasaki, Y, Miyata, A, Yamagami, S, Kaye, WH (1999): Clinical Characteristics in patients with anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder. Psychological Medicine 29: 407-414.

Rothenberg, A (1990): Adolescence and Eating Disorder: The Obsessive Compulsive Syndrome. Psychiatric Clinics of North America 13: 469-487.

Zubieta, JK, Demitrack, MA, Fenick, A, Krahn, DD (1995): Obsessionality in Eating Disorder Patients: Relationship to Clinical Presentation and Two- Year Outcome. Journal of Psychiatric Research 29: 333-342.


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