Anorexia nervosa--thinness as illness.
Anorexia nervosa appears to be on the rise, perhaps in part due to the cultural ideal of a thin figure. The anorectic is typically a highly motivated, over-compliant adolescent girl or young woman who has had problems with self-image and social interactions. Her behavior is an attempt to exert control and self-direction, usually through the regulation of food intake. Weight loss is the most common symptom of the disease and, when extreme, can be life-threatening. Although anorexia nervosa is usually considered a psychologic disorder, strong evidence for biologic relationships exists. Therapy includes both medical treatment and some form of psychotherapy. However, while acute problems often respond to medical intervention, many aspects of the anorectic condition are relatively refractory and some patients continue to have problems for much of their lives.
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