Emotional and Interoceptive Awareness and Its Relationship to Restriction in Young Women with Eating Disorders and Healthy Controls: a Cascade from Emotional to Behavioral Dysregulation



Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Activitas Nervosa Superior
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Web https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41470-017-0006-z
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s41470-017-0006-z
Field Psychology
Keywords Emotional awareness; Interoceptive awareness; Restriction; Emotional eating; Eating disorders
Description Recent findings converge to the idea that the central function of eating disorders (ED) can be understood as an attempt to control unwanted or dysregulated emotions. The restriction of food intake can be seen as the predominant and general dysregulated behavior with the aim to reduce emotional experience in women with ED. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that emotional and interoceptive awareness as indexed by the Level of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) and Body Perception Questionnaire (BPQ) will be in negative correlation with food restriction (Restriction Scale) and emotional eating (General Food Craving Questionnaire Trait). Our study was performed on women with ED (N = 73) and healthy controls (N = 207). The findings revealed that, in comparison with the controls, girls from the ED group were less able to discriminate their emotional states and were less aware of their body processes and autonomic nervous system reactivity. Contrary to our hypothesis, a three-stage hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed a significant effect of interoceptive sensitivity and emotional awareness on the restriction. Emotional and interoceptive awareness in women with ED explains the 25.2% variance of restriction in comparison with 8.8% in controls. It seems that the predominant use of restriction in the ED group could be explained by a limited repertoire of emotion regulation strategies or the persistent use of one emotion regulation strategy, such as restriction, while the controls had more options how to regulate their affect.
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