Identity impairment and the eating disorders: content and organization of the self-concept in women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2007 Jan; 15(1):58-69.EE
The cognitive model of the self-concept was used to test the theoretical proposition that disturbances in overall identity development are a core vulnerability that lead to formation of a fat body weight self-definition and eating disorder symptomatology.
Structural properties of the self-concept, availability in memory of a fat body weight self-schema, and eating disordered attitudes and behaviours were measured in women with anorexia nervosa (AN) (n = 26), bulimia nervosa (BN) (n = 53) and controls (n = 32).
Women with (AN) and (BN) had fewer positive and more negative and highly interrelated self-schemas compared to controls, and women with BN showed information processing evidence of a fat self-schema available in memory. These self-concept properties predicted eating disordered attitudes and behaviour.
Disturbances in the overall collection of identities--an impoverished self--is an important contributor to eating disorder symptomatology. The development of new positive selves may be an important factor in recovery.