.. situations. They also felt insecure about their body shape and size (Bulik, Beidel, & Duchmann, 1991, p. 210~. Another study shows that depression, anxiety, and hostility all are associated with bulimic behavior (Rebert, Stanton, & Schwarz, 1991, p.
500). The young student who experiences extreme mood swings attempts to control the emotions through a destructive cycle of overeating and purging for relief and release. One study shows that students with eating disorders are likely to come from dysfunctional families but raises the question about why some people adapt to such stress in other ways and do not become overeaters or undereaters. The severity of the eating difficulty was apparently not related to the severity of the family disturbance (Stieger, Liquornik, Chapman, & Hussain, 1991, p. 512). Apparently this area deserves more research to determine the more exact relationships between types of family problems and the resulting eating disorders. One group of college women participated in a college study which found that those with eating disorders rated higher on body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, child-like nature, and low self-esteem (Beren & Chrisler, 1990, p.
198). However, the study did not find any relationship between any particular personality type and eating disordered behavior. The tests used for the 7 study were the Eating Disorders Inventory, the Texas Social Behavior Inventory, the Social Desirability Scale, and the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Another study examined the degree to which the eight subscales of the Eating Disorders Inventory compared with the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). This particular study, as others reported, found that female university students who had eating difficulties tended to also have complaints of anxiety, depression, and other symptoms (Anderson & Meshot, 1992, p. 253) Some writers suggest that the prevalence of eating disorders among female college students is not a new phenomenon but one that is receiving wider recognition because students are more open about psychological matters (Grayson & Medalie, 1989, p.
100). Students of the 1980’s and 1990’s are more open and tolerant. However, student populations are diverse, and as other authors have r~eported, parental pressures can be great, causing students to seek adaptations to stress. Medalie believes that one of the causes of stress among campus females is the softening of gender roles and less rigid mores in the area of sexual behavior. Often the students of today have free access to each other in coed dorm living arrangements, much different from the more protected living situations of past generations. Sharlene Hesse-Biber finds, as have other researchers, that eating disorders among college women are fairly strictly genderbased (1989, p. 89). Few men adapt to stress with variations in eating behavior.
This finding correlates with that of Anne Katherine who believes that women are socialized at a young age 8 to internalize problems and try to cope within the difficult situation rather than fight it or leave it. Hesse-Biber also purports that young women are more susceptible to cultural influences on the type of appearance that is desired for women-ultra-slender. Also the character trait of perfectionism was apparent on those women who took the Eating Disorders Inventory for the Hesse-Biber study. She believes that the eating difficulties of college women must be understood in the cultural context of pressures for attractiveness and thinness. Myrna Friedlander and Sheri Siegel agree with other findings that the constellation of difficulties associated with eating problems relate to the student’s family background. Many college women who seek counseling for assistance with eating disorders have problems in their relationships with their mothers.
These students experience dependency conflicts, a diminished sense of individuality, beliefs about personal ineffectiveness, qualities of distrust and immaturity, and an inability to distinguish between emotion and hunger tFriedlander & Siegel, 1990, p. 77). The difficulty in determining whether she is hungry or lonely, hungry or tired, hungry or afraid, greatly increases the chance that such a student will eat instead of meeting the emotional need in a healthier way. The young female student with eating problems feels worthless and inadequate. She has a poor sense of personal control.
She may be hypersensitive and feel merged with others. She is unable to regulate herself and may be grandiose, exhibitionistic, even tyrannical. This type of student likely 9 comes from a dysfunctional background, one in which individual differentiation is not valued or promoted. It is unfortunate that the eating disorder serves to further tie her in an unhealthy way to her parents, who in turn, do not wish to let her grow into personal independence. It is evident from the research available that the reasons for college women’s difficulties with eating disorders are many and complex.
Some of the roots are in society itself–a society that teaches women to acquiesce to pressures and intimidation rather than to fight or change their circumstances and a society that teaches women that they are supposed to look a certain way in order to be acceptable. There is a great deal of information about the relationship between the family of origin and the resulting eating disordered behavior. Families with addictions, punitive behavior, anger, hostility, blurred identities, and lack of support for growth and individuation create young women who are unable to cope with the stresses of college living without their maladaptive eating. They do not know how to handle the difficulties of relationships, seeking support, and handling the normal changes of life without reverting to the learned childhood behavior of seeking solace in food. Evidence suggests that these difficulties are due to the lack of healthy food, inadequate support services, and the impersonal nature of college living.
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