Cognitive content among bulimic women: the role of core beliefs

G Waller, V Ohanian, C Meyer, S Osman
International Journal of Eating Disorders 2000, 28 (2): 235-41

OBJECTIVE: Most cognitive analyses of bulimic disorders have stressed the role of negative automatic thoughts or dysfunctional assumptions regarding weight, shape, and food. This study considered the role of more general core beliefs in the cognitive content of bulimic disorders.

METHODS: Fifty bulimic and 50 comparison women completed the Schema Questionnaire (YSQ) and a diary measure of bulimic behaviors.

RESULTS: The groups could be differentiated using just three of the beliefs: perceived Defectiveness/Shame, Insufficient Self-Control, and Failure to Achieve. This discrimination included differences between bulimic subgroups. At the symptomatic level, the bulimic women's Emotional Inhibition beliefs predicted their severity of binging, whereas their Defectiveness/Shame beliefs predicted severity of vomiting.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings support a model of bulimic psychopathology where the central cognitions encompass more than beliefs about food, shape, and weight. Clinical implications are considered.

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