Eating Disorder: Specific Model of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

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Going off of these findings, Rieger et al. (2010) came up with an eating disorder-specific model of interpersonal psychotherapy. Due to the significance of social relevance in eating disorders, Rieger et al. laid out factors that played an important role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. For example, a 2010 study of 208 patients who were diagnosed with AN or bulimia were assessed for interpersonal issues pre- and post-hospitalization. Eating pathology, symptom severity, and interpersonal patterns were examined. Specifically, the study proposes that in response to unhealthy and pessimistic social interactions, affected individuals lean on disordered eating behavior to repair themselves emotionally.

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For individuals with eating disorders, poor self-evaluation is often fueled by a feature of interpersonal issue: negative social evaluation. Because negative social evaluation is a sort of repetitive issue, there quickly becomes a common relationship between that feedback and the disordered eating symptoms. Therefore, the evaluation also functions as a maintenance factor for the poor cognition and behaviors.

Turning back to media, and specifically social media, we can find many resources that can provide an individual with information interpreting their “social value.” Some of these sources are direct and rooted in critical comments and cyber bullying. Individuals can choose to interpret

their social standing using these media outlets and compare themselves to others. Participants included 79 undergraduate women who did a self-report assessment of interest in negative feedback, bulimic symptoms, and body dissatisfaction. Despite serious concerns about body appearance, bulimic women were interested in the very feedback that would aggravate these concerns. The study also found that the interest in negative feedback appeared to serve as a risk factor for the development of later symptoms, via the mediating effects of increased body dissatisfaction.

A couple of widely used outlets through which these exchanges and social comparisons take place are Facebook and Instagram. Social media sites are growing more and more popular, which is why we focus our research on the implications of this public network. Specifically in relation to eating disorders, Facebook and Instagram provide a space where members can post pictures of themselves to compare with other people’s pictures; make comments related to weight, food, and shape; and join groups or support causes related to disordered eating. Most importantly and unfortunately, these sites make negative feedback available at the fingertips of the user. As previously noted, comparisons to images can lead to a rise in body dissatisfaction which are prevalent on a social networking site with over 1 billion users (Smith, 2012).

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Eating Disorder: Specific Model of Interpersonal Psychotherapy. (2019, May 25). Retrieved from