Body image disturbance: Time to abandon the concept for eating disorders?

Authors

  • L. K. George Hsu M.D.,

    Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director
    1. Eating Disorders Clinic, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
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  • Theresa A. Sobkiewicz M.S.W.

    Psychiatric Social Worker, Corresponding author
    1. Eating Disorders Clinic, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
    • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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Abstract

We have reviewed 19 “body image” studies on anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa published recently. In general, eating disorder patients overestimate their body width more often than do normal controls and are usually more disparaging toward their body. However, we contend that it is unnecessary and unwarranted to envoke the term “body image disturbance” to explain these research findings. We suggest that further research in the area of “body disparagement” or the characteristic attitude of “weight phobia,” “fear of fatness,” or “pursuit of thinness” may be yet fruitful without this problematic concept.

Theories are not true or false, they are fertile or sterile. —Claude Bernard.

When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, It means just what I choose it to mean. —Lewis Carroll.

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