Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders
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  • ISBN-13: 9780131839199
  • ISBN: 0131839195
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall


Keel, Pamela

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The question I have most often encountered is "What got you interested in eating disorders?" This is a challenging (although fair) question because there is no right answer. First, there is no one issue that got me interested in the topic. Instead, several factors converged to make it compelling to me, and it would take at least a chapter to answer the question adequately. Second, there are highly divergent views concerning who can speak authoritatively on the topic. Some people feel that only individuals who have personally suffered from eating disorders can truly understand their nature. Others feel that these individuals are unable to objectively differentiate aspects of their own experience from those of most individuals who have these disorders. I do not agree with either view. I believe that people who have not suffered from eating disorders are capable of understanding and appreciating their complexity. In addition, I believe that individuals who have suffered from these disorders have not, by definition, lost their ability to employ a scientific approach in examining these conditions. So, instead of attempting to answer the question of why I became interested in eating disorders, I will attempt to explain why I think you should be interested in them. After all, I have already chosen to specialize in this area, whereas you may be trying to discover what you feel passionate enough about to make a lifelong pursuit. Eating disorders provide the perfect opportunity to examine the intersections of culture, mind, and body. To truly appreciate the causes and consequences of these disorders, one must be willing to consider topics that span the humanities (history, art, and literature), the social sciences (psychology, anthropology, women's studies, and economics), and the natural sciences (anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and genetics). As a consequence, there is truly something for everyone in the study of eating disorders. Few topics of inquiry allow individuals from so many different disciplines to make significant contributions. Eating disorders are all around us. Almost anyone who picks up this book knows someone who has suffered from an eating disorder. Unlike other topics in academia, eating disorders are often part of our personal lives. Even individuals who are fortunate enough to have never personally had an eating disorder, or to have watched a loved one suffer from it, probably know someone who has. Eating disorders are very topical. Many famous individuals have acknowledged the impact of these disorders on their lives. Thus, even people who do not personally know someone with an eating disorder have a sense of familiarity with the problem. This topicality has two aspects. First, people probably know more about eating disorders than about many other subjects that might be covered by a textbook. Second, they probably have far more misinformation about eating disorders than they do about other textbook topics. Thus, eating disorders can be both familiar and challenging (rather than familiar and boring or challenging and intimidating). Eating disorders is a young field. Sections of this book were difficult to write because there is a still much that we simply do not know about these disorders. However, this limitation represents an opportunity. Because there is so much left to learn, there are many ways that people can make a significant contribution to the knowledge base of these disorders. In this new field, young people have completed many fascinating and illuminating studies. This book includes many studies conducted by college undergraduates because of the important conclusions that can be drawn from them. CASE STUDIES Like most textbooks on psychopathology, this one uses case studies to help bring eating disorders to life. Moreover, eating disorders never exist in a vacuum. They occur in the context of an individual's life. In order to balance the competing demands of brKeel, Pamela is the author of 'Eating Disorders', published 2004 under ISBN 9780131839199 and ISBN 0131839195.

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