Becoming ‘whole’ again: A qualitative study of women's views of recovering from anorexia nervosa



This study explored how women made sense of their recovery from Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out with fifteen women who had received a diagnosis of AN and defined themselves as either recovered or in recovery. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The women described their experiences in terms of three broad areas; being anorexic; the process of change; and being recovered. Transcending these themes was a series of dichotomies involving splits between their mind and body, AN behaviour and cognitions and their rational and irrational side. Further, they indicated that recovery reflects the time when these many different components of their selves are no longer divided and that this was often facilitated through therapy and close relationships which enabled them to find non bodily means to express their distress. Therapy should therefore aim to facilitate a sense of becoming ‘whole’ again. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.