Case Study: Karen Carpenter and Christina Ricci

Pages: 4 (1460 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Karen Carpenter and Christina Ricci, both who present with anorexia nervosa are similar in many ways. For the most part both young women experienced early exposure to fundamentally critical messages about their appearance and both were to some degree neglected by parents and conversely controlled by them. In the case of Carpenter parents were controlling and Karen was often subject to open favoritism of her brother. She was also confronted by her mother regarding the fact that her genetic history was for one of being overweight and that she would likely have to get used to it. Then as a young woman she became a performer, standing stage center at a time in history when physical appearance was openly criticized, and more often than not women were criticized for their appearance as overweight, even when their weight was perfectly natural. In Ricci's case she was exposed very early to images of herself as the young version of an overweight star, in a movie role and was given the impression by those around her that she was destined to be fat. This personal fear, supported by the casting of the younger version of an overweight woman, coupled with the divorce of her parents left her feeling vulnerable and dark. Both young women/girls resorted to anorexia nervosa, ranging between extreme denial and purging as well as over exercising.

Looking at the cases, together from a cognitive behavioral perspective, (after it is clear that the physical symptomology of the disease is under some semblance of control, i.e. some weight gain has been demonstrated and the individual is supported in her therapy) would seem very helpful as much of the disorder is clearly understood to be a symptom of negative thoughts driving destructive behaviors. Specialized cognitive behavioral therapy, in patient for most adolescents and/or young adults and potentially outpatient for adults suffering from the disorder would seem the logical choice of treatment regimen. From this perspective the cognition of the individual, Ricci and Carpenter was out of line with the real condition of her body. Both Carpenter and Ricci both expressed and/or were observed continuing to lose or try to lose weight after it was plain to see that they were already far too thin to be healthy. They both recognized having had a distorted body image, where they still believed that they were overweight but were alarmingly thin. Both women are of average to above intelligence and are therefore capable of having cognition altered to better allow them to redirect behaviors toward realistic images of self and to reduce the impact of their early exposure to negative self-image information. Nutritional therapy may have aided in both women having better understanding of the functional needs of their body. Social factors associated with the cognitive behavioral approach would include an address of comparing real, emaciated images of themselves, or others like themselves with images of women who are physically healthy in an attempt to cognitively address the skewed sense of their own physical image when severely underweight. Family, cognitive behavioral therapy might also be fundamentally important in Carpenter's case as the dynamics of the family, as well as the repetition of thematic preference for the other sibling and better familial understanding of issues of control and codependence would likely be appropriate. Both women were also likely predisposed to mental illness as a result of trauma (of parental divorce, and early exposure to primal scream therapy of father) in Ricci's case while in Carpenter's case such predispositions are unknown. Additionally, family history of mental illness is unknown for both these women.

Some aspects of the case that warrant further research include the development of anorexia nervosa as a result of over-controlling parents, perfectionism and dependence. Among the many research studies associated with anorexia nervosa, most of which are fairly old in research terms there were three works that really stood out on the above three issues. In adolescents with the disorder one research work stands out in favor of two variations of family therapy, one associated with conjoint family therapy (CFT) and the other supportive of separate family therapy (SFT), where individual's meet for CBT individually and hopefully apply the work to their family dynamic. This work contends that those who were most positively affected by therapy were those that did the (CFT) except in cases where the particular dynamic of the family, especially… [END OF PREVIEW]

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