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Keywords:

  • anger;
  • bulimia;
  • anorexia;
  • cognitions

Abstract

Objective

The link between emotion and eating pathology has long been established, but relatively little is known about the role of anger, partly because the existing literature has tended to concentrate on anger as a unitary construct. Nor is there any understanding of the cognitive factors that drive this affect in the eating disorders. This study had two aims: to determine levels of different facets of anger across eating disorder diagnoses and behaviors; and to investigate whether facets of anger are related to the individual's negative core beliefs.

Method

The sample consisted of 140 women who met DSM-IV criteria for eating disorders, and 50 female control participants (university undergraduates). The women completed self-report questionnaires of anger levels and unhealthy core beliefs, and the presence of bulimic behaviors was recorded at assessment.

Results

The eating-disordered women had higher levels of state anger and anger suppression, particularly if the diagnosis included bulimic symptoms. Different aspects of anger were associated with specific bulimic behaviors. Unhealthy core beliefs were associated with higher levels of trait anger in both groups but with anger suppression in the clinical women only.

Discussion

Suggestions are made regarding ways in which state anger and anger suppression might be understood and treated in women with eating disorders. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 34: 118–124, 2003.