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Are we eating to live or we are living for eating? The story of the eating disorders is not as simple as it seems. Problems like Clinical Bulimia and Clinical Anorexia can be termed as an epitome of the eating disorders for the present society. However, these problems in the subclinical settings are not a big issue because a small percentage of the subjects are suffering from it n (Stice, Marti, & Rohde, 2013). When we check the same problem with a lens view of the transdiagnostic model then we find that beyond the subclinical conditions it is a socio-psychological problem.
The severity of the eating disorders can be judged on the merit of a survey conducted in 2002, out of the 80,000 US girls, 56 percent girls were involved in a behavior that can be considered as an eating disorder. The sample was big and the number of the victims was on the higher side (Croll, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Ireland, 2002). This prevalence of a minor vice in the form of eating disorders gave us an idea to reverse the study patterns of this psychological disorder.
These patterns allow us to make hypothesis which says that "the normal course for a psychological disease moves on the lines where it finds a trigger with personalism and then interactionalism between brain and body takes over the proceedings.
In the case of an eating disorder, this journey starts from the situationism and the mechanism of the interactionalism takes over. In order to prove this hypothesis correct, we can take the support of the framework of Situated Identity Enactment model or SIE and its integration with other theories and aspects. The framework of SIE identifies eating disorders in Social contexts, social norms and social identities (Darby et al., 2009). The social context makes us a part of the group. It may be a peer group, it may be a fan club and it may be our office or any place like school etc. The Social context triggers a sense of the acceptance in the group. Teenage girls are very particular about their clothes and styling because they want an acceptance in a group. This acceptance gives them a sense of security; it gives them a sense that they are a part of the society. The acceptance of a person in a group is an example of situationism. Where an individual interacts with his or her immediate society, the dynamics of this interaction can cause certain psychological conditions. Many experts believe that the SIE mechanism can help us in explaining this dynamism for various cases. In fact, many types of research have already been done in this department and empirical evidence based findings are available for the readers.
Here we can also add the concept of the personalism. It is an integration of the meta-behaviors that sometimes set the path for an eating disorder. In order to win an acceptance in the group, sometimes the subject sets a role model for themselves. This role model sets some identities for the teenagers and other subjects (Soltis, 2013).
Think about a young girl suffering from anorexia nervosa, she wants an acceptance in her immediate society and for this, she creates an object of desire in the form of a social identity of a ramp model. This is a classic example of situtaionlism. The interaction of this girl with her immediate society makes her a victim of a poor self-body image. We can treat this condition as a socio-psychological disease, apart from it we can also treat it as an example of the situationlism heading towards an eating disorder.
In cases like these the social norms also play a key role. The social norms say that models have the best bodies to support the best outfits in the trade (Stice, Shaw, & Marti, 2007). The social norms help them in identifying the role models and later on they follow a dietary routine for the same. Many types of research show various types of patterns most of these behaviors are dependent on the social cues. Binge eating is one such example (Cruwys, Dingle, et al., 2014). Even marketing forces are aware of these social cues and they are also following the same model of SIE. Rethink about the message that says "have a break, have a chocolate." Craving for a chocolate is a subject of interactionism. The brain wants certain taste sometimes, sometimes the body needs that extra bit of energy and chocolate is a solution. Constant repetition of a message manipulates the mechanism of the interactionism and the brain starts associating chocolate with a break (Cruwys et al., 2013). In the clinical terminology, it is known as binge eating or eating something excessively when a person has no work to do. On the scale of the SIE norms, it is an injunctive norm that tells us to follow certain behavior (Herman & Polivy, 1980). Various researches did on SIE models gives us a clear impression that it has the power to integrate various dynamics of a problem. It is a theory that can be used for practice quite effectively.
In the case of a chocolate advertisement, it leads towards binge eating. Sportspersons promoting cola also moves on the same lines.
The SIE model also gives us a new hypothesis which says that eating disorders are infectious. They are infectious because they move on the vehicles of the social norms and send some injunctive messages for our deep-rooted psychologies s (Bunnell, Shenker, Nussbaum, Jacobson, & Cooper, 1990). Many types of research proved that inside a cohesive group if a small percentage of the group members is suffering from an eating disorder then there are full chances that more members of the group may fall the trap of an eating disorder. Eating disorders in closely knitted groups can become an environmental determinant and promote the disease (De Castro & Brewer, 1992). According to a study done in the year 1980, the chances of finding anorexia nervosa patients are higher among the dancers and modeling student. They think that they are preparing themselves for something that can become a Career for them (Suls & Rothman, 2004). This is an example of two groups we can find many another group that is constantly at risk of becoming the next victim of an eating disorder. Any group where they are promoting nutritional options can inspire a person to change his lifestyle and in order to meet with the bodybuilding goals or other unrealistic goals they can become binge eaters or they can become the patients of the Bulimia as well.
The role of the social norms in the process of the triggering of an eating order forces us to study normative Influences. The definition of the norm in the framework of SIE covers a big spectrum of the social interactions. We can also say that certain causative norms are an outcome of the presence of situtaionlism of any given group. Any influence can become a normative influence under the domain of a shared identity. The shared identity creates a social context and the same theory of being a part of any given group applies here. Comparative context and normative fit are another patterns that we can witness from the application of the SIE theories based experiments also gives an idea that when a person joins a group where comparative context is strong, the impact on his psychology leaves a stronger message. The framework of the SIE has the power to accommodate dynamic interactionism. For instance, the comparative context may have a different value in the case when any person joins a gym. SIE presents an interesting framework for the contextual variables. According to many researchers the scope for the contextual variables connected to eating disorders is limited; however, these contextual variables have a big utility in various other conditions.
As a practicing psychologist, a person can set his book straight with the help of SIE framework. In the beginning, we made a hypothesis that in the case of eating disorders it is the situationist that plays the key role. After an in-depth study of certain dynamics of the contextual and normative integration, we find that social context plays a crucial role in the appearance of eating disorders in an individual. While finding a cure for the eating disorders one should never forget to take this fact into the account. The positive motivation in the plain of contextual interaction and normative cues can become an ideal solution for the people suffering from eating disorders which are not severe enough to be termed as a subclinical condition.
Bunnell, D. W., Shenker, I. R., Nussbaum, M. P., Jacobson, M. S., & Cooper, P. (1990). Subclinical versus formal eating disorders: Differentiating psychological features. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 9(3), 357–362. doi:10.1002/ 1098-108x(199005)9:33.0.co;2-z
Croll, J., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Ireland, M. (2002). Prevalence and risk and protective factors related to disordered eating behaviors among adolescents: Relationship to gender and ethnicity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(2), 166– 175. doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(02)00368-3
Cruwys, T., Haslam, S. A., Dingle, G. A., Jetten, J., Hornsey, M. J., Chong, E. M. D., & Oei, T. P. S. (2014). Feeling connected again: Interventions that increase social identification reduce depression symptoms in community and clinical settings. Journal of Affective Disorders, 159, 139–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.02. 019
Darby, A., Hay, P. J., Mond, J. M., Quirk, F., Buttner, P., & Kennedy, L. (2009). The rising prevalence of comorbid obesity and eating disorder behaviors from 1995 to 2005. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 42, 104–108. doi:10.1002/eat. v42:2
De Castro, J. M., & Brewer, E. M. (1992). The amount eaten in meals by humans is a power function of the number of people present. Physiology & Behavior, 51(1), 121–125. doi:10.1016/0031-9384(92)90212-K
Herman, C. P., & Polivy, J. (1980). Restrained eating. In A. B. Stunkard (Ed.), Obesity (pp. 208–225). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.
Soltis, C. A. (2013). Dying to be a supermodel: Can requiring a healthy BMI be fashionable? Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, 26(1), 49–71.
Stice, E., Marti, C. N., & Rohde, P. (2013). Prevalence, incidence, impairment, and course of the proposed DSM-5 eating disorder diagnoses in an 8-year prospective community study of young women. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(2), 445–457. doi:10.1037/a0030679
Stice, E., Cooper, J. A., Schoeller, D. A., Tappe, K., & Lowe, M. R. (2007). Are dietary restraint scales valid measures of moderate-to long-term dietary restriction? Objective biological and behavioral data suggest not. Psychological Assessment, 19(4), 449–458. doi:10.1037/1040-35126.96.36.1999
Suls, J., & Rothman, A. (2004). Evolution of the biopsychosocial model: Prospects and challenges for health psychology. Health Psychology, 23(2), 119–125. doi:10.1037/0278-6188.8.131.52
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