As another Wednesday evening wound to a close, my family and I gathered around the kitchen table like a pack of hungry wolves. Everyone except Helena. She was always last to arrive at the table. We hurriedly shuffled plates back and forth among each other until everyone had received a heaping portion from each dish. Everyone except Helena. After filling our plates, a quiet hush fell over the table as we filled our stomachs. Everyone except Helena. She nervously chattered with only the smallest serving of food on her plate relatively spotless. Everyone except Helena. She was busy forcing down her third bite. After dessert was served, everyone helped clean the kitchen. Everyone except Helena. She was in the bathroom throwing up the three bites of food she had reluctantly consumed earlier.
Helena's behavior is characteristic of anorexia nervosa, a psychological eating disorder in which a person achieves self satisfaction through self-starvation.
The term anorexia means loss of appetite; however this is not necessarily typical of the disorder. In fact, most anorexics do have an appetite, but they suppress it to the point of starvation. It seems to me that the most common factors contributing to the onset of anorexia are gender and age.
I have noticed myself an increased incidence of anorexia among females. This high occurrence among females is probably highly related to the fact that females are more apt to diet because of cultural pressures to be thin. In addition, the earlier onset of puberty in females causes the adolescent female to be more aware of her weight and more self-conscious, which can later lead to eating disorders such as anorexia. This fact can be illustrated by Helena's case. As a adolescent female, she too faced these cultural pressures to be thin, which led to...