Academic Coursework Sample

Personal Factors that Predispose Children to Anorexia Nervosa

The relevance of the study for anorexia nervosa is defined by its high prevalence and significant morbidity, especially in recent years, and the difficulties of its diagnosis and treatment in connection with the tendency of patients to dissimulation, delaying the visit to professionals, and low controllability of psychopathology and complexity of rehabilitation. The peak of the disease is between ages of 12-15.

Anorexia (Greek, an – particle, which means the absence of a characteristic or quality, +orex – desire to eat, appetite) – loss of hunger, lack of appetite in the presence of physiological nutritional requirements. Nervous (psychic) ​​Anorexia is a disease that begins in childhood and adolescence, and represents a deliberate restriction in food intake, or even a complete rejection of food in order to correct an imaginary or drastically overestimated overweight. This disorder affects about 2% of girls and 1% of boys.

Patients are often the only daughters in a family with brothers, and have reported a feeling of inferiority regarding them. Often, they make an impression of external social compensated, diligent and fully obedient persons. And they tend to have high intelligence and are often brilliant students. Their interests are spiritual, ideals are ascetic, work capacity and activity is very high.

According to Steinberg, patients with anorexia nervosa are highly intelligent and have diverse interests – they are active, strong-willed, organized, with a high sense of duty and personal responsibility. These patients are rational, prone to reasoning, good friends, but in relationships are superficial, and therefore often remain without friends. Often these qualities are combined with shyness, diffidence, and an inner sense of moral untenability. Before the disease, teenagers are selfish, demanding, impatient, and at the same time very childishly attached to their mothes. Main personality traits – disharmony of mature thinking and infantile behavior.

Familial factors of anorexia nervosa

The mental health of a child is inextricably linked with the style of parenting and depends on the nature of relationship between the parent and child.

The most pathogenic effect is wrongful upbringing in adolescence, when the basic needs of this frustrating period of development should to be met – the need for autonomy, respect, self-determination, along with the need of support and joining (family “we”).

The literature offers a broad classification of parenting styles of adolescents with indication of parental relationship types that contributes to one or another anomaly of child development.

Uninvolved Parenting Style

Lack of care and control, sometimes reaching up to full child neglect – it is often seen as a lack of care and attention to the physical and spiritual well-being of the adolescent, to their affairs, interests,and anxieties. Sometimes this style may be hidden and observed in the formal presence of control and a real lack of warmth and caring with non-inclusion in the child’s life. This parenting style is the most adverse for adolescents of the conformal type, causing anti-social behavior – such as running away from home, homelessness, and idle life. This psychopathic development may cause frustration of needs for love and belonging, and emotional rejection of family community.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

The authoritarian parenting style usually consists of heightened attention and concern about the teenager combined with total control with abundance of restrictions and prohibitions, which reinforces the lack of independence, lack of initiative, indecision, and the inability to stand up for themselves. Such attitude causes a feeling of protest against the contempt of teenager’s sense of “I” and dramatically enhances the reaction of emancipation.

Permissive Parenting Style

This is the upbringing of the adolescent as an “idol of the family”, indulging the desires of child protection and excessive adoration, resulting in excessively high level of teen claims, unrestrained desire for leadership and excellence, combined with a lack of perseverance and reliance on their own resources. This parenting style promotes psychopathy hysteria.

According to Goldberg, prerequisites to the development of anorexia nervosa are disturbed family relationships, coupled with the dependent and immature personality of the patient. The characteristics for such cases are competition with siblings for parental attention, or conflicts related with the need to leave the house and with the desire to avoid social obligations that are natural for every mature person (this avoidance often involves sexual behavior).

When counseling people with anorexia nervosa, we must bear in mind that the basis of the disease is the violations in the family system and personality traits of patients. This, as well as the purpose of this study, determines the objectives and counseling tactics.

The main stages of family counseling:

1) Diagnostic (“family diagnosis”)
2) Elimination of family conflict
3) Reconstruction
4) Support

The aim of our study is to investigate the influence of family on the development of anorexia nervosa. This goal can be achieved in the first phase of counseling.
Also, to place a “family diagnosis” with the used methods of observation and conversation.


As the research hypothesis has suggested, anorexia nervosa in adolescence is the result of social and psychological maladjustment arising from violations of family relations.

There is a need to confirm the hypothesis of theoretical analysis of the literature about the research issue that was conducted, which showed that the family situation is the main factor in the development of anorexia nervosa, which leads to the importance and effectiveness of family counseling, especially at early stages of disease. However, there are no systematic studies of psychological mechanisms that cause anorexia nervosa. The literature describes the general characteristics of families of patients with anorexia nervosa, while information about the features of the emotional state of patients remains insufficient.

Within the framework of coursework, it is not possible to examine all family factors that contribute to the formation of illness. For the criteria for assessment of the family situation, we chose the frequency of conflicts in the family, physical punishment, the presence of siblings, parents’ alcoholism, the characteristics of emotional relationships with the parents and family and due to the emotional state of adolescent patients, the presence of relatives in the family suffering from any eating disorders.


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