One of the most studied and, at times, most misunderstood phenomena of biology (study of living organisms) and psychology (study of the mind) is how people develop mentally: how do people become who they are? How do individuals develop the capacity for learning, memory, intelligence, and personality?
Mental, or psychological, illnesses and disorders occur in or relate to the mind. Mental disorders differ from physical (related to the body) disorders because there are usually no physical symptoms of a mental disorder (such as a broken arm or an upset stomach) for a doctor to observe.
Eating disorders are dangerous psychological (relating to the mind) illnesses that affect millions of people, especially young women and girls. The most widely known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which will be discussed further in this chapter.
A habit is defined as a way of behaving that is repeated so often it no longer involves conscious thought. A habit might be a person brushing her teeth every night before bed, or walking the dog every morning before school or work.
What usually comes to mind when one hears the words "mental illness" or "mental health"? Many people might think of the stereotypical images of "crazy people" or of mental institutions.
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