By Peggy Parks

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Their skin is deathly pale, their cheeks are sunken in, and there are dark purplish circles under their eyes. Those who knew them in the past may be shocked at their appearance and barely recognize them. Hilde Bruch wrote about her reaction at seeing a 20-year-old anorexic named Alma: When she came in for consultation she looked like a walking skeleton, scantily dressed in shorts and a halter, with her legs sticking out like broomsticks, every rib showing, 54 What Are the Health Risks of Anorexia?

How much of an impact families have on someone developing anorexia is a contentious issue, even among health care professionals. Because anorexia has been shown to have biological roots, families, even the most dysfunctional families, are not the sole reason why people become anorexic. Researchers throughout the world say that blaming families for anorexia is much the same as blaming them for diabetes, asthma, or can- ” 40 What Causes Anorexia? cer. Also, many anorexics come from close, loving families who are very supportive of them.

They found that the two groups’ brains performed differently while they were playing the game. Among the nonsufferers, the part of the brain connected to emotional responses showed strong differences when the women were winning or losing. This was not the case with the group of former anorexics, however. Their MRI scans showed little difference in brain activity whether they won or lost the game, which led the researchers to suspect that the women got no more pleasure from winning than they did from losing.

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