I am constantly looking for scientific answers to justify what I believe to be true with regards to both self-injury and eating disorders. To an outsider, these disorders are hard to understand, but for the sufferer, it rarely comes as a surprise.
I believe two things: (1) These disorders have a biological/genetic connection and (2) there are factors that contribute to forcing them to manifest. If these factors weren't present, it's very possible these disorders could be avoided, regardless of the genetic predisposition.
In a Time magazine article today, http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1904999,00.html
, the link between anorexia in girls and autism or Asperger's in boys may be evident. How? These conditions share a common set of traits: rigidity in thinking, an intense focus on detail, a resistance to change and a narrow mental focus. "There is evidence that the "repetitive thoughts and behaviors, rigid routines and rituals and perfectionism" that characterize both autism and anorexia may be traced to the same regions in the brain."
What if these disorders were different because of gender? "It's possible, she [Janet Treasure]says, that the same genetic predisposition for autism and anorexia may be expressed differently depending on gender."
Think about it.
It makes sense that young women would be obsessed with physical appearance and young boys would be obsessed with things like cars or trains.
"About 15 times as many boys are given a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome as are girls, and nearly 10 times as many girls develop anorexia as boys. It's easy to see how an outsized sense of perfectionism in a female might lead to an unhealthy obsession with thinness — given society's preoccupation with physical appearance — while a male might end up obsessing about cars or trains, which is typical in autistic boys. "The reason [Asperger's] is usually diagnosed less often in females may be because it takes a different form — anorexia may be just one of the forms," says Baron-Cohen."
"Researchers may be able to pinpoint specific early risk factors to help identify kids who are vulnerable to developing anorexia — much the same way specialists can now recognize signs of autism as early as 12 months."
Isn't that amazing? Think about what this means!! What if there were a set of "triggers" that could be identified and looked for? What if there was early-intervention and anorexia was a disorder that could be avoided?
Imagine what a life-changing thing this would be!
I think of this like shingles. Shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. Once you have chicken pox, this virus stays in your body, dormant. In later years, something like a highly-stressful situation can cause this virus to become active. Minimizing stress minimizes ones chances of having a shingles outbreak.
I find studies like this very exciting. It helps to validate what I've felt all my life: I am different than others because of the way I respond to my environment, but I also believe that some of the messages I was given as a small child helped to cement some of my negative thinking that made something like an eating disorder almost inevitable.
This is something to think about and consider.
I think as a world we have always known that words had power, but science is one step closer to proving how much.