Cognitive processes in dieting disorders

P Butow, P Beumont, S Touyz
International Journal of Eating Disorders 1993, 14 (3): 319-29
This study is an empirical investigation of the prevailing notion that dieting disorder patients have more dysfunctional cognitions and cognitive styles than the nonclinical population. Groups of anorexics, bulimics, normal restrainers, and normal nonrestrainers completed three questionnaires and two repertory grids. Overall, the data supported a cognitive model of dieting disorders. Patients exhibited a lack of awareness of the role played by inner sensations in regulating weight and eating behavior, and emphasized black and white rules instead. Anorexic patients tended to evaluate self-worth almost entirely in terms of self-control. Both patient groups evidenced extreme negativity in their views of themselves, but anorexics showed a particularly severe sense of self-isolation. Unlike bulimics, they extended a tendency to think in absolute terms from the area of eating to the rest of their lives. Thus, the psychopathology of the anorexic patient group appeared more severe than that of bulimics.

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