Anorexia nervosa: Friend or foe?
Version of Record online: 8 FEB 1999
Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
International Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume 25, Issue 2, pages 177–186, March 1999
How to Cite
Serpell, L., Treasure, J., Teasdale, J. and Sullivan, V. (1999), Anorexia nervosa: Friend or foe?. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 25: 177–186. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-108X(199903)25:2<177::AID-EAT7>3.0.CO;2-D
- Issue online: 8 FEB 1999
- Version of Record online: 8 FEB 1999
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 JAN 1998
- anorexia nervosa;
- qualitative method;
- positive reinforcement
The aim of this study was to examine anorexics' attitudes towards anorexia nervosa.
Anorexic patients were asked to write two letters to their anorexia nervosa, one addressing it as a friend and the other addressing it as an enemy. A coding scheme was developed using a “Grounded Theory” methodology to group recurrent themes. The scheme was used independently by three raters: the first author, a rater with extensive experience in eating disorders, and a novice in the field. Use of the coding scheme showed high interrater reliability and comprehensiveness.
Commonly expressed benefits of anorexia nervosa included feeling looked after or protected, gaining a sense of control, and feeling special. Perceived costs of the disorder included constant thoughts about food, feeling taken over, and the damage done to personal relationships.
The positive themes found in the letters are important indicators of factors which may maintain anorexia nervosa. The use of the letters to examine these factors has important clinical implications which are outlined. © 1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 25: 177–186, 1999.