The Role of Self-Disgust within Disordered Eating Behaviour
Self-disgust has already been implicated within eating psychopathology (Moncrieff-Boyd & Nunn, 2014; Bell et al., 2017; Palmeria et al., 2017) and investigating this emotion may offer more of an understanding of the factors that contribute to the aetiology and maintenance of disordered eating behaviour. Therefore, the research aimed to examine the role of self-disgust within disordered eating behaviour and argues that this emotion can impact on all stages of an eating disorder. This research employed a simple, exploratory sequential mixed-design. The first phase (Phase 1) of data collection involved a large on-line questionnaire-based study, whereby 584 participants completed measures of emotional, coping and sensory factors including self-disgust. This battery of questionnaires was completed at baseline and then 12 months later. Findings from Phase 1 indicated that those with an eating disorder experience significantly higher levels of self-disgust compared to those who have never suffered from disordered eating behaviour. Self-disgust was associated with several sensory processing patterns as well as anxiety, depression and disgust-sensitivity. Self-disgust was significantly associated with several difficulties in emotion regulation strategies and disordered eating behaviour. Self-disgust mediated the relationship between specific emotion regulation strategies and disordered eating behaviour, but this relationship was not consistent over time. Finally, although self-disgust did not predict changes in disordered eating behaviour, the relationship between these two variables did persist over 12-months. The second phase (Phase 2) of data collection involved semi-structured interviews with 12 participants who had taken part in the previous phase and who had technically recovered. Findings from Phase 2 suggest that self-disgust is something that continues to affect a person's eating behaviour, even after clinical recovery and in turn may act as a trigger back into the cycle of disordered eating behaviour. Specifically, four superordinate themes "The Volume of the Voice" "Trapped in a body you do not want" "Disgust as a trigger" and "If I am not the eating disorder what am I?" are discussed. The findings have both academic and clinical relevance and provide compelling evidence that self-disgust is implicated within disordered eating behaviour and is an emotion that continues to affect a person even following recovery.
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