Article

Emotion, Attention, and Relationships: A Developmental Model of Self-Regulation in Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disordered Eating Behaviors

Nancy Zucker and Christopher Harshaw

in The Oxford Handbook of Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders: Developmental Perspectives

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744459
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199744459.013.0005

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Emotion, Attention, and Relationships: A Developmental Model of Self-Regulation in Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disordered Eating Behaviors

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Conflict between competing motivations, as is particularly likely to occur in complex social situations, provides the primary basis for the need to regulate emotions. In this chapter, we argue that, rather than being somehow deficient in the perception or experience of emotions, individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) are masters of emotion regulation, employing a variety of strategies in the service of rigid goal pursuit. We review what is known about the subjective experience of emotion, as well as the development of emotion regulation in AN. A review of the various emotion regulation strategies that have been studied to date provides the basis for generating specific hypotheses about the possible dynamics and development of emotion regulation in AN. It seems likely that the highly rigid deployment of specific regulation strategies through much of childhood leaves those individuals vulnerable to developing AN deficient in their ability both to contextualize their emotional experience and to adequately cope with the changing social demands of adolescence and young adulthood. Nonetheless, few studies have analyzed the development of emotional experience and regulation in AN longitudinally.

Keywords: Eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; social factors; emotion; emotional regulation; attention; self-awareness

Article.  15938 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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