Shame & psychological distress in obesity
The following research thesis discusses issues relevant to shame and psychological distress in women who are overweight or obese. The literature review summarises current knowledge regarding the relationship between binge eating and depression in obesity. Although largely based upon literature from the field of psychiatry, the review is intended to provide an overview for clinical psychologists. The literature is critically evaluated in terms of methodologies and theoretical approaches, and ideas for further research are suggested. In the final section, the clinical implications of the literature for clinical psychologists working with clients who are overweight and who binge eat are discussed. The brief paper explores the factor structure of an extended version of the "Experience of Shame Scale" (E. S. S. ) and the reliability of the extended scale in a community sample of women. Principal components analysis revealed that a three-factor solution was appropriate for this sample, demonstrating that the salient factors of shame in women are: - characterological shame, behavioural shame and bodily shame. To the author's knowledge, this is the first study to measure shame in a community sample of women. The main paper investigates shame and psychological distress in a community sample of women who are overweight or obese. The study compares four groups of women, categorized according to Body Mass Index. The results demonstrated that women who were severely obese experienced significantly higher levels of shame and psychological distress than all other groups. They received significantly higher scores on all four subscales of the E. S. S (characterological, behavioural, bodily and eating shame) and also had significantly lower self esteem. The reflective review discusses issues arising from the research which may be of benefit to other applied and professional psychologists. It is divided into five sections - personal reflections on the research process, ethical considerations, methodological issues, empowerment in research and the use of psychiatric terminology in this study.