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Anorexia Nervosa

Changing Ideal of Beauty or insane Obsession?


Beauty or liberation?  Horror for some!

A photo of a yong anorexic woman, skin and bones, a living skeletonWhat no sane individual would consider to be beautiful has become a goal for many women and girls, and a bountiful source of income for psychologists. Maybe it is a testimony to the new culture of death and self-destruction, but for many it is perhaps nothing other than an addiction to pain.
   Many of these women cannot even sit anymore without feeling intense pain where their hip bones stick through the parody of what once used to be their buttocks.  However, at great costs to society and to their extended and immediate families, these women's chosen lifestyle drives them to pursue the achievement of what they see as an ideal to be obtained even if they have to pay for it with their lives.  What normal humans consider macabre, these women strive to acquire: their vision of today's "ideal" female body – a living skeleton.

A photo of an anorexi young women, with an inset of a photo of te face and neck of a middle-age woman, both pictures of living skeletonsNothing much helps to "cure" these women.  Why should it?   Anorexia nervosa is the lifestyle of their choice!  They believe in all earnest that nothing is wrong with them.  Starving themselves liberates them, even if they don't know from what.  Some people may think that perhaps it is the gamble with death that makes them do it, but that can't be it, because the human body is so resilient that death hardly ever occurs as a consequence of anorexia nervosa.  

Christina Hoff Sommers identified, in debunking the myth of more than 150,000 deaths that some feminists allege occur annually in the US from anorexia nervosa, that deaths very rarely occur as a result of anorexia nervosa, no more than about 54 of them per year.  Still, one must wonder how it is possible that some women survive the devastation they wreak on their bodies.  Photo by Danieal Maslet, of the face of a healthy young woman
Photo: Daniel Masclet

A 1994 article published by the US Food and Drug Administration, "On the Teen Scene: Eating Disorders Require Medical Attention", by Dixie Farley, states the following:

About 1,000 women die of anorexia each year, according to the American Anorexia/Bulimia Association. More specific statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics show that "anorexia" or "anorexia nervosa" was the underlying cause of death noted on 101 death certificates in 1994, and was mentioned as one of multiple causes of death on another 2,657 death certificates. In the same year, bulimia was the underlying cause of death on two death certificates and mentioned as one of several causes on 64 others.

____________
Note by F4L: Going by the scarcity of articles at the FDA website that show reliable and credible statistics on anorexia nervosa being the primary cause of death, the FDA attaches not much more importance to that cause of death than it does to other rare causes of death.  As the FDA shows anorexia nervosa to be the primary cause of death in no more than 101 cases in 1994, no conclusions can be drawn from that statistic to what the variations in annual deaths due to anorexia nervosa are or what the average annual incidence of death due to anorexia nervosa is.  Therefore there is absolutely no reason to doubt Christina Hoff Sommers' finding that anorexia nervosa by itself causes on average no more than 54 deaths per year in the US.

In contrast to the face shown to the left, above, the one from the early 1950s shown at the right is still beautiful by today's standards.

Half a century ago we enjoyed looking at faces like that shown above, in the photo by Daniel Masclet, and we still do today.  Half a century ago there were hardly ever any women who starved themselves in efforts to look ugly.  They didn't often dream of acquiring the appearance of the walking dead.  They had no time for that, because they were too busy making sure they looked good, not sick.

A young woman, a living skeleton, having make-up put on by another womanAnorexia nervosa is a name for a medical condition that was once so rare that the term didn't become part of the English language until 1873.  Not as today, then there were few people for whom the designation of that condition was a common household word.
   Today, if we don't know of a member in our immediate or extended families afflicted with the condition, then we most likely know someone in our circle of friends or at work who is pursuing the obsession of self-imposed starving. 

Click on the photo on the left if you wish to see a larger version with better resolution.  If that is not enough to convince you of the extents aficionados of anorexia nervosa will go, have a look at the website from which the photo was copied (archived file).  It has an amazing collection of photos of women trying their best to make themselves thin.  Obviously, it is not possible to do that without many of them them making themselves look abhorrent, like the walking dead, and as if their bones are about to clatter.  Still, anorexia nervosa kills very, very rarely — extremely rarely.  Death does not fit the game these women play.

Putting anorexia nervosa into perspective

Someone wrote from Mexico and asked whether anorexia nervosa can be inherited through a genetic predisposition.

Here is the answer to that:

It is too bad, but I do not know much Spanish. This has been translated from English into Spanish; via Bablefish. (Translation appended)

No researcher has found solid evidence of a genetic predisposition of anyone to "contract" anorexia nervosa.

There is a research group that claims to have found such evidence, but it is possible that their claim has no more substance than their claim on which they base the need for millions of dollars of funding for their research.

They say that,

Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder and is the most lethal of all psychiatric illnesses. It is one of the most common causes of death in young women...

That is a false assertion, at the very least a seriously misleading one. Therefore I see no reason why anyone should believe everything else they assert.

Information about their study can be found at
http://www.wpic.pitt.edu/research/angenetics/press.html

In truth, the most common causes of death (1995 figures) for women and men aged 15 to 24 are:
CauseMaleFemale
Unintentional Injuries10,3133,529
Homicide6,2241,060
Suicide4,132652
Malignant Neoplasms1,009633
Heart Disease659380
HIV377252
Congenital Anomalies258194
Bronchitis Emphysema Asthma133113
Pneumonia & Influenza11988
Cerebrovascular9775
Totals:23,3216,976

_____________________
Source: http://fathersforlife.org/US_population_figures_80-96.htm
Original source:
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Anorexia nervosa (for all ages) causes annually 54 women to die from its complications (as per Christina Hoff Sommers' findings)

All the best,

Walter Schneider

Spanish:

Es demasiado malo, pero no s— mucho espa—ol. Esto se ha traducido de ingl—s a espa—ol; v—a Bablefish.

Ning—n investigador ha encontrado evidencia s—lida de un predisposition gen—tico de cualquier persona "para contraer" nervosa del anorexia.

Hay un grupo de investigaci—n que las demandas haber encontrado tal evidencia, pero —l son posibles que su demanda no tiene no m—s de sustancia que su demanda en la cual basen la necesidad de millones de d—lares de financiamiento para su investigaci—n.

Dicen eso,

El nervosa del anorexia es un desorden serio el comer y es el m—s mortal de todas las enfermedades psiqui—tricas. Es una de las causas m—s comunes de la muerte en mujeres j—venes...

Eso es una aserci—n falsa, por lo menos de enga—o. Por lo tanto veo que ninguna raz—n por la que cualquier persona debe creer todo ellos afirma.

La informaci—n sobre su estudio se puede encontrar en
http://www.wpic.pitt.edu/research/angenetics/press.html

Las causas m—s comunes de la muerte (1995 figuras) para las mujeres y los hombres envejecidos 15 a 24 son:
 

Causa

Var—nHembra
Lesiones Inintencionales10,3133,529
Homicidio6,2241,060
Suicidio4,132652
Neoplasmas Malos1,009633
Enfermedad card—aca659380
HIV377252
Anomal—as Cong—nitas258194
Bronquitis Enfisema Asma133113
Pulmon—a Y Gripe11988
Cerebrovascular9775
Totales:23,3216,976

Figuras de la tabla 2,
http://fathersforlife.org/US_population_figures_80-96.htm#Leading_Causes

El nervosa del anorexia (para todas las edades) hace anualmente a 54 mujeres morir de sus complicaciones (seg—n los resultados de Christina Hoff Sommers -- descritos en <http://fathersforlife.org/health/anorexia8.htm#Deaths>)


The next page discusses the social costs of anorexia nervosa

Back to Anorexia-Nervosa Index Page

Back to Index of Health Issues

White RoseThe White Rose
Thoughts are Free

__________________
Posted 2001 08 28
Updates:
2005 07 01 (added Putting anorexia nervosa into perspective)
2007 10 10 (added quote from and reference to US FDA article on eating disorders)