Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Merrill Singer & Elyse Singer
Eating disorders comprise a complex, multidimensional group of increasingly common yet poorly understood illnesses. These conditions are characterized by serious and possibly life-threatening disturbances in eating patterns, including both significant levels of food restriction and intense overeating that often involve food bingeing and purging. In addition to a set of extreme, ritualized eating behaviors, sufferers commonly exhibit depression, anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsiveness and body dysmorphic disorder, perfectionism, distorted body image, body-checking behavior, and constant weighing. In addition, drug abuse has been found to be prevalent among people with eating disorders. Denial of illness is also characteristic of sufferers as is the valuing of symptoms. Disruption in eating patterns may begin with casual dieting, which, when successful, causes the sufferer to fixate on powerful feelings of accomplishment and personal control leading eventually to an unhealthy relationship with food and one's body. Three primary types of eating disorders have been described: ...