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Anorexia Nervosa: Support for the Withholding of Life Sustaining Treatment Introduction, Article Review Example

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Article Review

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious condition with significant physical and psychological complications. Many anorexics face death at a very young age, but their mental status often prohibits an effective response to treatment and improved health. Some experts argue that anorexics face their own degree of mental incapacitation because they are unable to recognize the harm that they are placing themselves in a daily basis. Thus, mental incapacitation prohibits these individuals from making their own independent decisions regarding situations when life sustaining treatment is necessary (Campbell and Aulisio, 2012). However, this group of individuals should be given the right and the opportunity to make their own decisions regarding their health for reasons that will be addressed in the following paragraphs.

Analysis

Anorexic patients place themselves at significant risk when they do not obtain the proper nutrition. Unfortunately, end stage anorexia is far too common in a society where public image is so relevant and self-esteem is so low. This ethical dilemma is highly complex and does not always have a right and a wrong answer. Many anorexic patients in the end stage are fully competent and are capable of making their own decisions; therefore, they should have the freedom to withhold their own treatment as they see fit. Although this poses a number of ethical questions, when patient mental capacity is not diminished, then these individuals have complete control over what happens in their lives and how they wish to lead them or end them if it may. Anorexics typically do not suffer on their own; rather, they also have family and friends who suffer along with them (Bratton, 2010). Nonetheless, anorexics with full mental capacity have the autonomy to make their own decisions, which may include withholding life sustaining treatment (Bratton, 2010).

Ultimately, it is the responsibility and the choice of the anorexic patient regarding whether or not he or she accepts life sustaining treatment. Some patients believe that they are too far gone and that at this time, recovery is unattainable (Nordbo et.al, 2012). Regardless of their motives, it is their decision to make, and this decision should not be interfered with on any level (Nordbo et.al, 2012). Patients must be given the right to make this decision and to determine what is best for them as they face a critical turning point in their lives. Even in the face of depression or other psychological challenges, patients thus remain autonomous and should be given the freedom to make their own choices. Some of these patients often believe that by withholding treatment, they will release a heavy burden from their families and friends and will be able to die with some degree of dignity.

Conclusion

Patients with anorexia nervosa face very difficult challenges as the disease progresses towards the end of life. Patients are provided with a number of treatment resources to improve their potential recovery. However, it is also believed that many of these patients will never recover and restore their health in full. When they realize that this is the case, they are more likely to withhold life sustaining treatment measures, primarily due to the minimized quality of life that they experience. This is a challenging set of circumstances; however, it is believed that these patients have the right to refuse treatment when their mental capacity is not diminished. This gives them complete freedom, control, and autonomy to make decisions with their own free will. This group should be provided with space and a level of freedom to make these decisions without interference from friends and family members, in spite of the trauma and devastation that this type of decision brings their way.

References

Bratton, M. (2010). Anorexia, welfare, and the varieties of autonomy: judicial rhetoric and the law in practice. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 17(2), 159-162.

Campbell, A.T., and Ausilio, M.P. (2012). The stigma of “mental” illness: end stage anorexia and treatment refusal. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(5), 627-634.

Nordbo, RHS, Espeset, EMS, Gulliksen, K.S., Skarderud, F., Geller, J., and Holte A. (2012). Reluctance to recover in anorexia nervosa. European Eating Disorders Review,  20(1), 60-67.

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