Writing Survival Guide

Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Pica
Sample Extended Definition Essay Flowchart

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

Downloadable mp3 audio file script: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/eating-disorders.mp3

It is an ironic counterpoint to the obesity epidemic. Adult women weighing as little as 56 pounds and so malnourished that their bodies are shutting down continue to starve themselves, continuing to believe that they are fat, or are teetering on the edge of out-of-control weight gain. Any sense that the weight loss was to become more attractive wears away as one looks at the frighteningly skeletal bodies. When one compares "before / after" photos, one finds oneself wanting to blurt out that the anorexia or bulimia-driven woman looked more attractive before, even if she considered herself a bit plump.

Although the quest for thinness may be perceived as virtuous, when it spirals out of control, so do the negative health consequences. Among the more common side effects of induced vomiting are extreme tooth decay, ruptured esophagus, seizures, heart arrhythmia, stroke, and even heart attack. Victims who suffered fatal heart attacks include Karen Carpenter. Terry Schiavo, whose case became a flash-point for quality of life and right-to-die debates, fell into a coma as a consequence, according to medical experts, of practices associated with bulimia.

Because eating disorders touch almost all women, either directly or indirectly, it is a topic that is quite engaging for first-year composition classes. 

 

Engaging, Interesting Illustrative Scene:
Varieties of eating disorders in action. Scene of a person who suffers from anorexia. Scene of a person who suffers from bulimia. A scene of a person who suffers from pica. Take a look at the photo of Allegra Versace (heir to the Versace designer empire) and her mother, Donatella. You might start with a description. You can also do research on the models who have died of eating disorders.

Definition Section: Eating Disorders Overview: What are they?
What are eating disorders? What are common types of eating disorders? Anorexia, bulimia, pica, etc. Who suffers from them? Where and why? This should be a brief overview.

Types of Eating Disorders:

Type 1: Anorexia (long paragraph - 125 words or so) -- Include examples / case studies here -- keep it interesting!
What is it? What are the most common behaviors? How common is it? Which well-known people have suffered from it? What happens to people with this kind of eating disorder? What are the physical and psychological consequences? What are some of the reasons for it? What are possible treatments? Are they successful?

Type 2: Bulimia (long paragraph - 125 words or so) -- Include examples / case studies here -- keep it interesting!
What is it? What are the most common behaviors? How common is it? Which well-known people have suffered from it? What happens to people with this kind of eating disorder? What are the physical and psychological consequences? What are some of the reasons for it? What are possible treatments? Are they successful?

Type 3: Pica (long paragraph - 125 words or so) -- Include examples / case studies here -- keep it interesting!
What is it? What are the most common behaviors? How common is it? Which well-known people have suffered from it? What happens to people with this kind of eating disorder? What are the physical and psychological consequences? What are some of the reasons for it? What are possible treatments? Are they successful?

Aspects of Eating Disorders

Aspect 1: Psychological Aspects (cite expert sources, but also include your own analysis / thoughts)
What are they? How do they manifest themselves? Are there connections between depression and eating disorders? Anxiety and eating disorders? Affiliation needs? Could eating disorders be a kind of traumatic re-enactment of abuse that occurred when one was younger, and an attempt to control it?

Aspect 2: Sociological Aspects (cite expert sources, but also include your own analysis / thoughts)
Do individuals acquire eating disorders as a response to social pressures? Is it a behavior that is both condemned and condoned by one's peer group? How might sociological pressures present themselves? How does the media influence perceptions? What can one say about the eating disorder (anorexia, in particular) websites that seem to encourage and promote eating disorders?

Conclusion -- Discussion and Analysis
What are some of the trends? What are your opinions? What do eating disorders reveal about our society or our ideas about ourselves?
****************
Key Words for Searches:

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Karen Carpenter
Margaux Hemingway

Mary-Kate Olsen

Allegra Versace - http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2401736.ece
Princess Diana, Diana Spencer
DSM-IV Handbook
Eating Disorder Treatment centers
Eating Disorder Information centers

Useful Websites:

ANRED: Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders http://www.anred.com/toc.html

Battling Anorexia: The Story of Karen Carpenter. http://atdpweb.soe.berkeley.edu/quest/Mind&Body/Carpenter.html

Fact About Eating Disorders. http://atdpweb.soe.berkeley.edu/quest/Mind&Body/EatingDisorders.html

Speech Given by Diana, Princess of Wales, on Eating Disorders. http://www.settelen.com/diana_eating_disorders.htm

Anorexia and Hollywood (photos of a woman who weighs around 56 pounds. I wonder if she is still alive...) http://et.tv.yahoo.com/celebrities/2733/

Dangerous Extremes: Middle-Aged Women with Eating Disorders// 48 Hours. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/24/48hours/main585266.shtml

Ira Sacker. Dying to be Thin. http://www.twbookmark.com/books/10/0446384178/

Chapter Excerpt of Dying to be Thin. http://www.twbookmark.com/books/10/0446384178/chapter_excerpt14056.html

Anorexia and Bulimia Biographies:
"Good Enough" by Cynthia Nappa Bitter
"Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self" by Lori Gottlieb
"Wasted: A Memoir" by Marya Hornbacher
"Inner Hunger: A Young Woman's Struggle through Anorexia & Bulimia" by Marianne Apostolides
"My Life as a Male Anorexic" by Michael Krasnow
"Starving for Attention" by Cherry Boone-O'Neill
"Solitaire" by Aimee Liu
"The Art of Starvation" by Sheila McLeod
"My Name is Caroline" by Caroline Adams-Miller
"The Monster Within: Overcoming Bulimia" by Cynthia Rowland
"Diary of an Eating Disorder: A Mother and Daughter Share their Healing Journey" by Chelsea Brown Smith & Beverly Runton
"Dying to Please: Anorexia Nervosa and Its Cure" by Avis Rumney
"Dark Marathon: The Mary Wazeter Story; The Ongoing Struggles of a World-Class Runner" by Mary Wazeter (Mannhardt) with Gregg Lewis

NOVELS

"The Best Little Girl in the World" by Steven Levenkron
"Kessa" by Steven Levenkron
"Hunger Point: A Novel" by Jillian Medoff
"The Passion of Alice" by Stephanie Grant
"Eve's Apple: A Novel" by Jonathan Rosen
"Perk" by Liza Hall
"Life Size" by Jenefer Shute
"My Sister's Bones" by Cathi Hanauer

PROANA sites and ANA/MIA sites (Note: this is an extremely destructive trend, and it is dealt with extensively in the course, "Understanding Anorexia")


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

A brief list of celebrities who have suffered with eating disorders: Calista Flockhart - Nicole Richie - Mary Kate Olson - Courtney Cox - Sandra Dee
Christina Ricci - Fiona Apple - Dolly Parton - Helga Brathen - Geri Halliwell - Jane Fonda