Disordered Eating in College Students  Term Paper

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Relationships provide the key experience that connects children's personal and social worlds. It is within the dynamic interplay between these two worlds that minds form and personalities grow, behavior evolves and social competence begins." (1999) Howe relates that it is being acknowledged increasingly that "...psychologically, the individual cannot be understood independently of his or her social and cultural context. The infant dos not enter the world as a priori discrete psychological being. Rather, the self and personality form as the developing mind engages with the world in which it finds itself." (Howe, 1999) Therefore, Howe relates that there is: "...no 'hard boundary' between the mental condition of individuals and the social environments in which they find themselves. The interaction between individuals and their experiences creates personalities. This is the domain of the psychosocial." (Howe, 1999) the work of Howe additionally states that attachment behavior "...brings infants into close proximity to their main carers. It is within these relationships that children learn about themselves, other people and social life in general. Young children interact with their parents and other family members, and in so doing, develop an understanding of both themselves and other people." (1999) Children learn, within these relationships, appropriate organization of expression, behavior and emotions. Howe writes that later on the child will gain an understanding of emotions and begin to note the affective states of other and the "social context in which interpersonal life takes place." (1999) Healthy relationships in the child's growth and development assist the child to become an individual that is secure and autonomous although not adverse to accepted help when needed.

The early studies of Bowlby led to his intrigue concerning to specific findings arising from his work in the 1940s and 50s that examined the long-term developmental impact on children who had either suffered some type of emotional diversity as children or who had been separated from their parents for long period of time. It was the belief of Bowlby that these children suffered from a range of behavioral, mental health, and emotional problems, which could be linked to these early experiences of loss or diversity. Secondly, Bowlby and Robertson found in a series of observations conducted in the early 1950s that when young children were separated from their mothers that they all experienced an identifiable sequence of behaviors. Howe states: "The children's first reaction to the loss was to protest with inconsolable crying, sometimes coupled with attempts to find or follow the missing mother. This was followed by a period of despair, apathy and listlessness. If the separation continued over several days or weeks, the children would enter a third phase of quiet detachment, withdrawal and an apparent lack of interest in the lost caregiver. In this final phase, there was the appearance of recovery, but play and relationships had a perfunctory quality to them. If reunion with the caregiver did eventually take place, children showed a mixture of anger, crying, clinging and rejection." (Howe, 1999) From these findings, Bowlby held that children form a very strong bond with the primary caregiver and when this bond was broken children were caused great distress. The work of Belsky and Cassidy (1994) relates that the emotions and behaviors linked to attachment are best observed in situations of distress, which involve fear, danger, conflict and social challenges, as well as threats to the physical and emotional availability of the caregiver and the caregiver's responsiveness, which may include the following three sites of anxiety-provoking stimuli:

1) Within the child;

2) Within the environment; and 3) Within the attachment figure.

According to Belsky and Cassidy (1994), 'within the child' stimuli is such as when the child is sick, hungry, tired, or hurt while 'within the environment' stimuli includes any thing or event within the child's environment which is threatening or frightening and finally, 'within the attachment figure' includes the child being unsure of the location of the attachment figure or unsure of the attachment figure's behavior expressed as being unresponsive, hostile or abusive. When these attachments behaviors are activated, the child becomes unable to participate in other developmental experiences including playing and exploration. The work of Ainsworth suggests that at link exists between the attachment and exploration in that the infant "uses the attachment figure as a secure base from which to explore." (Ainsworth, et al., 1978) the research, which follows in the present study review of literature, intends to provide indications, which suggest that the insecure attachment to the father by a child of the female gender results in many females, by the time they reach college, developing an eating disorder, which stems from an insecure father-attachment earlier in life.

The work of Allen, et al. (2001) entitled: "A Model for a Brief Assessment of Attachment and Its Application to Women in Inpatient Treatment for Trauma-Related Psychiatric Disorders" published in the Journal of Personality Assessment reports an adaptation self-report measures of attachment style to the psychological assessment of women in specialized inpatient treatment for trauma-related disorders. Employed in this study were two measures of adult attachment style: (1) the Relationship Questionnaire; and (2) the Adult Attachment Scale as well as a questionnaire developed by Allen et al. (2001) and referred to as the Current Attachment Relationships questionnaire which is stated to make an assessment of "...the extent of social support in secure attachments." (Allen et al., 2001) Allen et al. (2001) reports administering these measures to 99 patients and to a convenience sample of 154 women in the community. Findings state a modest correspondence was found between the two attachment style measures and substantial relations between attachment styles range of secure attachment relationships. Women in the trauma sample reported insecure attachment styles and relatively few secure attachment figures. " (Allen, 2001)

There are various types of eating disorders and these are associated in psychology with a psychological disorder which culminates or becomes apparent as being a coping mechanism used by individuals although most times unbeknownst to that individual as such. The work of DeCairos (2005) entitled: "Eating Disorders: An Examination of a Psychological Illness as a Coping Mechanism and it's Underlying Issues" states that many times, females who have been sexually assaulted by family members are more likely to have symptoms of an eating disorder than women who were either sexually assaulted by someone outside the family or were not assaulted at all and cites McComb (2001) p.168. Because adolescence is a critical time of development and for females this is a time when their self-perception develops and as well a time in which 'internal working models' (Bowlby, 1973) begin to form which are the models by which the child develops their expectations of both self and others.

The work of Margolese, Markiewicz and Doyle (2001) entitled: "Attachment to Parents, Best Friend, and Romantic Partner: Predicting Different Pathways to Depression in Adolescence" published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence states: "Negative working models of self and others that are associated with insecure attachment relationships might be a precursor to the pattern of expectations and cognitions seen in depression. Insecure attachment relationships produce low internalized feelings of felt security."

The work of Kerns and Barth (1995) entitled: "Attachment and Play: Convergence Across Components of Parent-Child Relationships and Their Relations to Peer Competence" reports a study which examined: (1) linkages between attachment security and physical play interactions in mother-child and father-child dyads, and (2) linkages between these parenting components and peer competence. The study included 54 preschoolers, with 27 of them girls who participated with their fathers and mothers. Parents are reported to have completed the Attachment Q-set and parent-child dyads were observed in a physical play session that was evaluated for play engagement and quality. Evaluated by teachers were the children in terms of their popularity and friendly and cooperative behavior. Findings of the study state: "Mother-child dyads with more securely attached children had higher rates of play engagement. In father-child dyads with more securely attached children, fathers issued more directives and children made more suggestions and positive responses. Mother-child play quality and father-child attachment were most strongly associated with preschool measures. Findings suggest that attachment and play are relatively independent components." (Kerns and Barth, 1995)

The work of DeCairos (2005) notes that paternal behavior "...especially overprotection, makes an individual feel like they are inadequate or ineffective, and we know that ineffectiveness is linked to perfectionism, which is linked to body dissatisfaction, and can lead to disordered eating." DeCairos relates the findings of Mehler and Anderson (1999), whose study illustrated that: "Attitudes and values are absorbed at a young age, and these are the force behind wanting to lose weight, which can be started by one specific incident such as a comment by a mother, which will trigger something, especially in an individual that is predisposed to an eating disorder." (2005)

The work of Jonathan P. Schwartz (2004) entitled: "Relationship Between Attachment to Parents and Psychological Separation in College Students" published in the Journal of College Student Development reports a…

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