Anorexia Nervosa can be translated “nervous loss of appetite”. This type of eating disorder has been affecting the female gender for centuries, occurring in various cultural and ethnical groups around the world. The unusual behavior of people affected by the disease attracted the attention of various medical scientists throughout the course of history. Early data related to Anorexia Nervosa can be found in manuscripts written many centuries ago. Although they are very inaccurate, the first studies on this form of disease date back since the end of the 17th century. These early studies describe Anorexia Nervosa as a purely physiological disease, developed on the premises of physical dysfunctions. More substantial data on Anorexia Nervosa has been collected towards the end of the 19th century, when the neuropsychological nature of the disease has been described for the first time.
The disease has been called “Anorexia Nervosa” at the beginning of the 20th century. In spite of its name, Anorexia Nervosa doesn’t involve loss of appetite at all! This inappropriate definition suggests a poor understanding of the disease in the past. People who suffer from anorexia don’t just “lose” their appetite; they simply refuse to eat properly. Anorexics are overwhelmed by the fear of being fat and therefore they struggle to prevent this from happening. They become obsessed with food and they engage in unusual behaviors in order to lose weight. People who suffer from anorexia in time develop an altered perception of their body image, seeing themselves as “fat”. Regardless of their efforts to lose weight, anorexics constantly complain about their physical appearance and they are never satisfied with their achievements.
In present, anorexia is very common in the young population. It mostly affects girls and young women, although the disease is also known to affect men. Actually, nowadays anorexia seems to affect both sexes equally. While anorexia was a rare disease in the past, nowadays it has an overwhelmingly high incidence in the young population. Although there are some genetic and acquired physiological factors involved in the development of Anorexia Nervosa, the disease appears to be triggered by environmental and neuropsychological factors.
In modern society, the high incidence of anorexia in the young population is interrelated with the increased influence of the media over the masses. The ideal of beauty promoted by the society we live in has a great influence on teenagers and children. Being fit and having a slim body is the ideal of beauty promoted by modern society and due to a pronounced pressure exercised by the media and modern culture, many young people engage in unhealthy food behaviors in an attempt to achieve an image that closely resembles the topical ideal of beauty. Nowadays, anorexia is obviously a phenomenon induced by modern society, which latently manipulates the young. In fact, the diminished acceptance of modern society for “average-looking people” is the main catalyst of Anorexia Nervosa in present. Due to the exaggerated ideals of beauty promoted these days, and the increased pressure exercised by our culture upon the young, anorexia can only become an even more prevalent phenomenon in future.