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Anorexia Nervosa By Anonymous Colleges and universities around the country are reporting an increased prevalence of eating problems among young female students Difficulties include obsession with food starvation dieting severe weight loss obesity and compulsive binge eating often followed by self-induced vomiting Hesse-Biber 1989 p 71 What are the reasons for eating disorders among college-aged women It is the purpose of this paper to discuss this question and give an overview of several possible answers determined following an examination of current psychological literature in this area of concern The reasons for difficulties around the issues of food and eating are myriad and complex They touch on every aspect of being female and no single answer sufficiently explains the phenomenon of college students who overeat or undereat as a response to stress In her book Anatomy of a Food Addiction author Anne Katherine calls eating the great escape and pinpoints the vulnerabilities of women to childhood origins 1991 p 70 She believes that girls are taught that they cannot fight or flee Unlike boys who have the outlets of strenuous play and fighting to release anger girls are taught that they must cope within the difficult situation while remaining there In the girl-childs attempts to find solace in a situation from which she cannot escape she learns that sweet food will release chemicals that soothe her when she is frightened and angry Thus she learns rather early in life that food gives her a way to avoid feeling trapped and overwhelmed This conditioned response to stress then carries over into adult living and in situations where the young woman feels overwhelmed frightened cornered confused miserable or lonely the body seeks relief and the whole organism tries to lead her into a way of release Even if the woman has made a conscious decision to not overeat in response to stress the whole person has been deeply trained to eat anyway and she automatically
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