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ANTHROP 1AA3 Lecture Notes - Medical Anthropology

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Tracy Prowse

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Case Study: Anorexia Nervosa
Health problem with symptoms associated with a particular culture
Underlying causes - stress, fear, shock
Could have been placed socially outside their community could make them succumb to
the syndromes
Victims often socially marginalized
Culture Specific Syndromes
Associated with industrial, western societies
More common in "white" girls
Found mostly in Euro-American adolescent females
Very mental that is hard to change for girls
Try to help them see, and stay away from it once they've been treated
Difficult to cure medically
Some people have suggested there is a genetic component to it, not clear
The flu: caused by a virus, easy treatments like sleep, rest
No clear biological cause
Women describe it as an issue of control, they can decide what they eat and how they
Culturally linked to concern with appearance and body weight
1/10 are males
May be due to increase in the occurrence, or increased awareness and recording of the
Increase in prevalence since 1970's
Other countries not North America, Europe
Not seen in 'developing' world until 1990's
Is that the cause? And why there is more and more experiences?
Is this an urban, modern, western disease?
What is so different about us?
Why is it so prevalent in 'western' societies?
14-15 century
Experience some type of religious meeting
Would express themselves through denying themselves food and water
"Miracle Maidens"
Wanted to be a nun
Denying yourself of something brought you closer to God
Died of a stroke (common in anorexia)
St. Catherin of Siena (1347-1380)
In the 16th century, the catholic church no longer accepted it, said you were a witch if
you practiced it
Historical evidence for 'holy anorexia'
Full-figured women showed health and fertility centuries ago
Major CSS of "the West": Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia
Readings: Ch 4, p.166-178
Culture-specific Syndromes
Monday, January 21, 2013
9:50 AM
Anthro 1AA3 Page 1
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