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Summary of
Literature Review

The
literature review involves a multitude of previous studies that varied in scope
and focus for eating disorders.  Patients
with general eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa were
compared with each other and against healthy patients through a framework
called the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI). Relationships were studied
between the conditions and measures of perceived parental care and control. Certain
relationships were found such as patients with anorexia nervosa perceived lower
levels of parental care and higher levels of parental control (Canetti et al.
2008). There were studies to determine whether different conditions impacted
the patient’s coping methods and self-esteem. Furthermore, family factors were
considered to determine whether correlations existed. For example, low parental
care was evident when physical abuse was experienced and it also increased weight
phobia (Berger et al. 1995).

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Summary of the
Study

For
this study, 70 patients of various eating disorders had tests individually administered
while they received treatment at the Eating Disorders Unit. The mainly
questionnaire tests were provided through a third-party physician to measure six
scores including the Parental Bonding Instrument, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and
Coping Strategies Inventory. It was found that the pursuit for thinness was
mainly found in patients with high perceived control and low perceived care from
both parents (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 731).
Furthermore, those same patients illustrated higher problem avoidance,
problem-facing disengagement, and depression (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos,
& Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 731). The severity level of bulimia and the
patients perceived current parental care had a strong negative correlation and
the Coping Strategies Inventory test found that the mother’s care was
positively correlated with cognitive restructuring, engagement, and social
acceptance (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 732). .    

Critical Analysis

             Society believes
that motherhood is a component of the cycle of life and thus should come
naturally. In actuality, the vast majority of newly mothers have
self-identified to be extremely unprepared for the added responsibilities (Choi,
Henshaw, Baker, & Tree, 2005, p. 176). The duties of motherhood are difficult
to comprehend for non-mothers, creating the perception that any problems are a
result of incompetent parenting. The article has stated that there is a strong relationship
between the care and control parenting styles of mothers with the development
of eating disorders in their children (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, &
Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 728). The perceived parenting quality for the first 16
years has also been linked to the severity of the eating disorders and other negative
consequences such as cognitive restricting, societal engagement, and group
acceptance (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 732).
Therefore, the study concludes with the recommendation that mothers change
their behavior especially regarding their degree of control, implying that a
significant burden of fault lies with the mothers.  

However,
the Choi, Henshaw, Baker, & Tree (2005) article explains that motherhood is
not always intentional and becoming the “ideal mother” cannot easily be achieved
due to society’s unreasonably high expectations for them. Furthermore, they are
accountable for being the foundation of a “successful” family and are unable to
speak up regarding any issues as motherhood is considered the ultimate reward that
is worth compromising everything (Choi, Henshaw, Baker, & Tree, 2005, p. 177).
The Porter (2010) article states that the ideal mother image is an inaccurate
understanding of the reality of mothering, as the expectations and standards
are constantly in flux. The article explains that catastrophic events have
completely redefined the roles of motherhood. Therefore, even granular metrics
such as quality of care and degree of control having an “optimal” level is a
myth. A high degree of control, currently considered unreasonable, could be
justified during times of danger such as a world war.

Furthermore, the performance of mothers during
the care and treatment process have been heavily undermined when compared to
the fathers. Mothers were described as expressing strong levels of anxiety to a
similar degree as their original supposedly “incorrect” parenting style (Jàuregui
Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 733). On the other hand,
fathers expressed a higher utilization of cognitive coping strategies during
the treatment process, implying they have a stronger ability to adapt (Jàuregui
Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 733). The Choi, Henshaw,
Baker, & Tree (2005) article illustrates that mothers have to be “Supermum,
Superwife and Supereverything” and arguably have more responsibilities than
fathers. This overwhelming load of responsibilities requires mothers to reshape
their approach to life around motherhood and could be the cause for the difficulty
in adapting during the treatment process.

Challenging the Author’s
Claims

The article’s impact is limited as it does not consider the various
other contributors to the development of eating disorders. In our modern society,
the goals and ideals that are adopted by children are less determined by mothers
and more from the media due to it becoming an increasingly integral aspect of
modern life. The immense power of the media has perpetuated the “ideal figure”
and the body shape that everybody, especially adolescents, should strive towards.
This strive for perfection is also transferred to the peers of children and can
cause bullying. Within the literature review, a study contributed peer bullying
as a common memory for patients with bulimic conditions (Fosse & Holen,
2006, p. 404). Unfortunately, peer bullying is difficult to prevent from the
parent’s perspective until its effects have already been done.

Another
factor that could contribute to eating disorders that was not considered is
biology. Farrell, Lee, & Deacon (2015) states that throughout the recent
years, the number of studies suggesting biological influences, such as genetics,
are major contributors have increased. Furthermore, biological factors have
been attributed to projective pessimism, low self-control, and reduced
perceived efficiency of treatments (Farrell, Lee, & Deacon, 2015, p. 33). To
increase accuracy, a background check could have been completed on each patient
to search for a family history of eating disorders to determine whether biology
could be a factor.  

Perpetuation of Dominant
Discourse

The Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, &
Garrido Casals (2011) article is contributing to the perpetuation of the
discourse of motherhood by singling out parenting quality and control as the major
factor for the development of eating disorders. By narrowing its scope to a
very specific factor to eating disorders, the article neglects the possibility of
external factors out of the parent’s control, such as the individual child’s personality.
These factors could force a mother to choose a different parenting style. However,
this study firmly implies that style is the choice of the mother and they should
make different choices in the future (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, &
Garrido Casals, 2011, p. 728).  The
article also suggests for mothers to reduce their overcontrolling nature but fail
to consider that this nature, if it exists, could be a result of the current
discourse of motherhood (Jàuregui Lobera, Bolaños Ríos, & Garrido Casals,
2011, p. 728). Mothers could be increasing control so that society deems them
as an “ideal” parent. Pushing the blame and additional responsibilities to mothers
will only increase the severity of their self-conscious nature to meet society’s
unrealistic expectation of motherhood.

 

Word Count: 1194 words

References

Choi, P., Henshaw, C., Baker, S., &
Tree, J. (2005). Supermum, superwife, supereverything: performing
femininity in the transition to motherhood. Journal of Reproductive and
Infant Psychology, 23(2), 167-180. doi:10.1080/02646830500129487

Farrell, N. R., Lee, A. A., &
Deacon, B. J. (2015). Biological or psychological? Effects of eating
disorder psychoeducation on self-blame and recovery expectations among
symptomatic individuals. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 74,
32-37. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.08.011

Fosse, G. K., & Holen, A. (2006).
Childhood maltreatment in adult female psychiatric outpatients with eating
disorders. Eating Behaviors, 7(4), 404-409.
doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2005.12.006

Horwitz, E. (2011). Through the maze of motherhood:
Empowered mothers speak. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.

Jàuregui Lobera, I., Bolaños Ríos, P., &
Garrido Casals, O. (2011). Parenting styles and eating disorders. Journal
of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18(8), 728-735.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01723.x

Porter, M. (2010). Focus on Mothering. Hecate, 36(1/2),
5-16.

 

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