Treating eating disorders involves shifting ‘Eating Disorder Voice’

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According to a recent article in Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, individuals with eating disorders often experience a negative inner voice that critiques their weight and eating habits. The researchers found that this voice, which can feel like it belongs to a separate person, tends to decrease in severity, hostility, and perceived power throughout psychotherapeutic treatment.

This study, headed by Ludovica Natali from the University of Padova, additionally finds that reductions in the eating disorder voice’s malevolence and omnipotence often coincide with a reduction of some symptoms.

The authors report:

“Over time, patients reported lower levels of eating and weight concern (small effect size), shape concern (large effect size), and anxiety (small effect size). They also reported a reduction in the severity, perceived malevolence (medium effect size), and omnipotence (small effect size) of the eating disorder voice. Greater severity and malevolence of the voice, and lower benevolence at baseline predicted greater reductions in eating disorder symptoms (i.e., restraint and shape concern).”

 

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Richard Sears teaches psychology at West Georgia Technical College and is studying to receive a PhD in consciousness and society from the University of West Georgia. He has previously worked in crisis stabilization units as an intake assessor and crisis line operator. His current research interests include the delineation between institutions and the individuals that make them up, dehumanization and its relationship to exaltation, and natural substitutes for potentially harmful psychopharmacological interventions.