I hope this research could one day lead to treatment providers' focusing more of their recovery process around emotion and coping skills.
"In the summer of 2012, I ran an experiment combining the skills I learned in psychology and linguistics and used language to uncover what's happening in the minds of those with eating disorders. Having volunteered with crisis helplines and an eating disorder mentoring program, I saw first-hand the devastating impact eating disorders could have on people, both physically and emotionally – but I was troubled by the lack of research on emotion in eating disorders.
"Rather than focusing on weight, food and body shape as motivation like much of the traditional research has done, I looked at the emotional functions and triggers of eating disorders. My faculty mentor, Heidi Lorimor, worked closely with me throughout this project.
"What my research found was a clear effect of stress level on participants with eating disorders. Most notably, stressed eating disordered participants recognized food-related words like 'pizza' and 'restaurant' at much slower rates than did non-stressed eating disordered participants. It seems that being stressed made eating disordered individuals suppress thoughts of food. This makes sense, because blocking out such thoughts could facilitate eating disordered behaviors like dieting and restricting.
"I hope this research could one day lead to treatment providers' focusing more of their recovery process around emotion and coping skills."
Lauren is from Santa Monica, Calif.Posted June 3, 2013
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