Selected psychological traits and body image characteristics in females suffering from binge eating disorder
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Arch Psych Psych 2013;15(1):19–33
Aim. This paper reports the results of the author's own research aimed at diagnosing specific psychological (personality) traits and body image characteristics in a population of selected females suffering from binge eating disorder (BED). Method. The methods applied in this research included an inventory (i.e. a Polish version of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) devised by David Garner, Marion P. Olmsted, and Janet Polivy, adapted by Cezary Zechowski; and the Socio-cultural Attitudes towards the Body and Appearance Questionnaire, constructed by the author of this study, based on the results of factor analysis and subject literature), as well as projective techniques such as Thompson's Silhouette Test and a thematic drawing: body image. The inventories and projective techniques applied in the research procedures aimed at diagnosing the level of selected psychological traits in the examined females. Results. Statistical analysis of the data obtained as a result of this research revealed that the examined females suffering from psychogenic overeating were overweight. Analysis of the study data concerning the subject's evaluation of their body image pointed to a substantial discrepancy between the individuals' perception of their current body shape, which they clearly did not approve of, and the ideal thin body that the females desired. The study data obtained as a result of the EDI inventory, aimed at diagnosing the level of selected psychological (personality) traits exhibited by the examined females, revealed that the subjects received the highest (inappropriate) score in the scale describing the individuals' preoccupation with pursuit of thinness. It was also discovered that the study participants had a high level of internalization of socio-cultural norms about the ideal female body, promoting the cult of thinness, and they exhibited the feeling of insecurity and personal worthlessness, as well as a low level of interpersonal trust. It was also found out that the research subjects experienced considerable difficulties in establishing interpersonal bonds, and exhibited inappropriately low level of interoceptive awareness of body sensations, as well as increased perfectionism. Conclusions. A psychological diagnosis of body image characteristics combined with an examination of dominant personality traits in individuals suffering from binge eating disorder might be a significant element of treatment process. The research findings suggest that the females diagnosed with BED, who tend to eat up their emotions and exhibit an inadequate level of drive for thinness, low self-evaluation (the feeling of worthlessness), and experience difficulties in establishing and maintaining close relationships, require complex treatment which should combine such methods as regular medical examination of the patients' somatic condition, long-term depth psychotherapy, elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy focused on body image and the vicious circle of overeating, and dietary treatment.