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Insidious: The relationship patients have with their eating disorders and its impact on symptoms, duration of illness, and self-image
Karolinska Inst, Dept Clin Neurosci, Ctr Psychiat Res, Norra Stn Gatan 69, S-11364 Stockholm, Sweden.;Stockholm Cty Council, Stockholm Hlth Care Serv, Stockholm, Sweden..ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9550-3820
Karolinska Inst, Dept Clin Neurosci, Ctr Psychiat Res, Norra Stn Gatan 69, S-11364 Stockholm, Sweden.;Stockholm Cty Council, Stockholm Hlth Care Serv, Stockholm, Sweden.;Inst Eating Disorders, Oslo, Norway..ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3536-6059
Karolinska Inst, Dept Clin Neurosci, Ctr Psychiat Res, Norra Stn Gatan 69, S-11364 Stockholm, Sweden.;Stockholm Cty Council, Stockholm Hlth Care Serv, Stockholm, Sweden..
2018 (English)In: Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, ISSN 1476-0835, E-ISSN 2044-8341, Vol. 91, no 3, p. 302-316Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

ObjectivesIn published clinical and autobiographical accounts of eating disorders, patients often describe their disorder in personified ways, that is, relating to the disorder as if it were an entity, and treatment often involves techniques of externalization. By encouraging patients to think about their eating disorder as a relationship, this study aimed to examine how young female patients experience their eating disorder as acting towards them, how they react in response, and whether these interactions are associated with symptoms, illness duration, and self-image. DesignStructural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB) was used to operationalize how patients experience the actions of their eating disorder and their own reactions to the disorder. MethodThe relationship between patients (N=150) and their eating disorders was examined with respect to symptoms, duration of illness, and self-image. Patients were also compared on their tendency to react with affiliation in relation to their disorder. ResultsPatients' responses on the SASB indicated that they tended to conceptualize their eating disorders as blaming and controlling, and they themselves as sulking and submitting in response. Greater experience of the eating disorder as being controlling was associated with higher levels of symptomatology. Patients reacting with more negative affiliation towards their disorder were less symptomatic. ConclusionsWhen encouraging patients to think about their eating disorder as a relationship, comprehensible relationship patterns between patients and their eating disorders emerged. The idea that this alleged relationship may resemble a real-life relationship could have theoretical implications, and its exploration may be of interest in treatment. Practitioner points Patients were able to conceptualize their eating disorder as a significant other to whom they relate when encouraged to do so. Patients tended to experience their disorder as controlling and domineering. Exploring the hypothetical patient-eating disorder relationship may prove helpful in understanding dysfunctional relational patterns. Helping patients to rebel against their eating disorder could potentially aid in symptom reduction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY , 2018. Vol. 91, no 3, p. 302-316
Keywords [en]
control, eating disorders, intrapersonal relationship, self-image, submission
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-7750DOI: 10.1111/papt.12161ISI: 000443408100003PubMedID: 29080248OAI: oai:DiVA.org:gih-7750DiVA, id: diva2:1795169
Available from: 2023-09-07 Created: 2023-09-07 Last updated: 2023-09-07

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Forsén Mantilla, Emma

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