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Title: An experimental test of a schema based model of eating disorders
Author: Heath, G.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2004
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An experimental test of a schema based model of eating disorders. A new schema-based model of eating disorders proposes that differences in the way emotional material is processed might explain the radical behavioural differences seen between anorexic and bulimic pathology. Within this model, anorexic pathology appears to involve a primary avoidance of affect, where cognitive avoidance of ego-threats is used to avoid triggering negative emotions. The process is schema-driven, with higher levels of negative schema resulting in a higher level of cognitive avoidance. In bulimic pathology, a secondary avoidance of affect occurs, where the individual uses bingeing to reduce awareness of intolerable emotions once triggered. This study measured cognitive avoidance using a modified visual dot probe task in 36 eating disordered women and 12 non clinical participants. As predicted by the model, women with an anorexic profile showed cognitive avoidance of emotional threat. There were also some correlations between negative schema and avoidance in anorexic cases, although these findings are preliminarily only. Further work is required to establish whether cognitive avoidance of threat is the first step in a primary avoidance of affect. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available