M., the elliptical machines are all taken—and some of those people have already been there for hours, confirms Tyman. The gym can be a really tough place to go when youre in college. Dehler says this preoccupation with appearance is partly what inspired a painting she made this past spring for a class assignment. Untitled, it is an oil image of a painfully thin girl, illustrated by a" dehler found in a memoir she was reading about anorexia—part of her research for the honors thesis she will write this year on the topic. i havent suffered from an eating disorder myself, but I havent found anyone whos immune to media images of what we should look like, she says. No one ever feels that their body is good enough. I thought this would be a powerful way to draw people into the subject. What Can be done?
Thesis statement for anorexia
There are full-length mirrors in every residence hall, and you can see whats happening as people are getting ready to go out at night, she adds. Everybodys standing around saying: Im so fat. There are too many mirrors—way too many mirrors, agrees Tyman with a laugh. Obviously you need to look at yourself to make sure youre put together and have no stains. But you dont need to check yourself out constantly. Small wonder, then, that so many try to do all they can to keep their weight in check—even if they are not pursuing such extreme habits as self-induced vomiting. Indeed, many use a more socially acceptable means: exercise. I see a lot of obsessive exercisers, says lauren Dehler, a fourth-year student from ho-ho-kus,. J., who is double majoring in visual arts and psychology. There are people who weigh themselves when they get to the gym lighthouse and weigh themselves again after exercising another hour.
When I came to holy Cross, i was surprised to see the numbers of overweight people are very low, says Kristin Tyman, a fourth-year student pdf from revere, mass. You see a very thin population. Its tough, especially if you are struggling with losing weight because you gained it, as I did freshman year. Society looks at a slim figure as another mark of accomplishment, observes Cracco. Holy Cross students consider themselves (and others consider them to be) put together. Being thin is perceived to be part of that. So the focus on weight consciousness and self-criticism is very common.
This cant be just contained to list a medical diagnosis and solved with a pill, says Betsy Cracco 89, who worked as a staff psychologist at Holy Cross for three years before moving to private practice and part-time work at Connecticut College this past summer. A medical doctor works on the physical conditions—heart rate, blood and urine tests, weight checks—but to really help deal with the problem there also needs to be a counseling role, adds Lipsitz. Its a very secretive illness. They dont want to talk about. What we try to do is help them look at the fact that the eating disorder is a coping mechanism, and they need to find another way to cope. It takes a long time to achieve that. Even those who dont have full-blown eating disorders may still worry to an inordinate degree about their appearance, focusing as much on food and exercise as they do on their studies, their extracurricular activities and their friends. This insidious problem, which could be dubbed appearance preoccupation, for want of a better name, is also hard to crack—especially on a college campus where hundreds of young people are living together in very close quarters, exerting enormous influence on each other.
Betsy Cracco 89, staff psychologist at Holy Cross. Clearly, our weight-conscious culture, combined with media images of impossible thinness, influence all of our perceptions of a desirable body image—even if almost no one in the real world possesses one. Indeed, one of the great ironies of our culture is that the number of obese Americans keeps increasing, even as others are fretting about being thin enough. So why does one person develop an eating disorder, and another does not? Repeats Lipsitz with a sigh. A lot of different factors come together in a very complex way. Its multiply determined and complex, ranging from developmental issues, to genetic predisposition, to personality characteristics, to media influences. In some cases, but not all, an eating disorder shows up in people who also have depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental illness. They are hard to treat, because they require a dual approach—healing the body and the mind.
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Like anorexia, bulimia has serious health consequences, including damage to the stomach and esophagus, and possible infertility. Statistics suggest that eating disorders are very rare, both nationally and at Holy Cross. Its hard to find precise data, lipsitz says, but most experts agree that about 5-10 million American women and 1 million men struggle with eating disorders, primarily anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating (in which large amounts of food are consumed in a frenzy). Officially, anorexia afflicts less than 1 percent of the population, while bulimia affects about 1-3 percent. Of course, these numbers count only those people who seek treatment. And, in any event, the numbers are clearly higher on college campuses, according to lipsitz. A good estimate is that 15-20 percent of college-age females suffer from subclinical conditions or meet criteria for diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder, he says.
Ive seen statistics suggesting that 15 percent of women aged 17-24 have disordered eating, 91 percent of college women have attempted essay to control their weight through dieting, and 54 percent of men are unhappy with their appearance and wish their bodies were different. At the counseling Center, he says, they see about two or three students per year with anorexia, and another dozen or so who have bulimia. But those are just the ones who actually come in to the counseling Center to get help. He says he doesnt know how many more may be struggling with unhealthy relationships with food and appearance—which, although undiagnosed, can be considered forms of disordered eating. This cant be just contained to a medical diagnosis and solved with a pill. It took a long time to get entrenched, and it will take a long time—months, even years—to get a handle.
Hard to Explain, hard to Understand. Fallons story, while gripping, is not unlike those of other people with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia and bulimia, the other well-known eating disorder, are terrifying and confusing mental illnesses that develop for a variety of complicated reasons. For those who have them, they are hard to explain; for those who dont, they are equally hard to comprehend. The hardest thing about an eating disorder—or any addiction, for that matter—is understanding the motives behind it, says Fallon, the third of four girls in her family. You cant understand it until youve lived.
For these people, food is not simply fuel, or an appreciation of taste and texture, or even an occasion for sharing companionable time with family and friends. Instead, food is fraught with tension, with all sorts of issues that have nothing to do with the very basic human need to satisfy physical hunger. Eating disorders are really coping mechanisms, explains neal Lipsitz, director of the holy Cross. In adolescence, which is when anorexia generally begins, it may be a girls fear of a changing body and impending womanhood, combined with a desire to separate from her parents and exert control over her own life. Anorexia sets in: She starves herself, eating less and less until her bony frame seems so frail one would think she could be knocked down by a strong gust of wind. Anorexia can be deadly: More people die from it than from any other mental illness. For an older girl—often college age—the disorder may start with a simple desire to lose some extra pounds but quickly spirals downward into bulimia, which is characterized by a furious effort to get rid of calories either by throwing up, exercising for hours, or using.
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From that point on, i was sick of being sick. I decided I wanted plan to go back to school. That summer, i began to realize that I could still be thin and happy and in control. I didnt have to be one or the other. Eating disorders are really coping mechanisms. People are using these behaviors as a way to cope with life circumstances that are otherwise hard to deal with. Neal Lipsitz, director of the holy Cross counseling Center.
In the spring of her second year, she left school and entered Long Island Jewish short Hospital in New York, at an all-time low of 76 pounds. Doctors told her parents they didnt think she would make. I had a feeding tube in my nose, ivs in my veins, and a heart monitor on my chest, she says. I could only use a wheelchair to get around. My heart was so weak they would have to wake me up in the middle of the night to make sure i was ok, because the monitor was beeping. Miraculously, something changed during this terribly dark time. My dad said, caroline, we cant help you anymore; only you can beat this, she continues. It was like a switch flipped.
just ate lunch my stomach hurts. You name it, i used. I lost about 10 pounds in two months. I went from 112 pounds to 98 pounds (shes 5 feet, 4 inches tall but still felt like i could do better. Her parents, frightened for her life, said she could go away to college only if her eating disorder was under control. So fallon set her mind to it, remaining stable long enough to enroll at Holy Cross. But the disease flared up again.
Fallon had grappled with anorexia nervosa, an extremely serious eating disorder, throughout high supermarket school. She had been hospitalized due to the disorder four times before coming to holy Cross. Her ordeal began on her 14th birthday: For some reason, the singing, the cake, the candles and the presents werent enough, she recalls. I felt unloved, forgotten about, and alone. I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself I had to change, but the only thing I could do was change who was outside. That is when I stuck my fingers down my throat and threw up everything that I had in my stomach. It hurt, i cried, and I went to bed. Within a few months, shed stopped eating altogether. I threw up any meal that I was forced to eat; hunger pains made me feel stronger, and for once i felt in control, continues Fallon, who was a star athlete and attended high school on an academic scholarship.
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Atypical Anorexia: An Invisible battle, saturday evenings were gym evenings. The wind of the air conditioner beat down on my bare shoulders like rays of sun, the fluorescent light glaring above. Most of the time, i struggled to eat three meals, but didnt want to miss out on going to brunch in the east Village with friends. I worked out constantly to compensate. Still, a nagging voice in my head told me its not enough. Food, fear and Control: The Agony of Eating Disorders, by michelle. Murphy, caroline fallon, a cheerful and ambitious 21-year-old from Breezy point,. Y., graduated from Holy Cross with this past may with a degree in psychology/premed—but not without a struggle. Academics werent her problem.