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A Three-phase Model of the Social Emotional Functioning in Eating Disorders


Janet Treasure, PhD, FRCP, FRCPsych, Eating Disorders Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, Box P059, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. Tel: 020 7848 5969; Fax: 020 7848 5967.




Problems with social emotional functioning are an important part of eating disorder psychopathology.


This study aimed to propose a model of social emotional functioning before and during the illness and to explain the consequences for those involved.


We propose a three-phase model of social and emotional processes as both causal and maintaining factors in anorexia nervosa. The predictions from this model are examined, and we consider the relevance for treatment.


The evidence base for the theoretical model is presented: Phase 1 describes causal predispositions and environments, Phase 2 notes the way in which the symptoms themselves impact on brain function and social cognition and Phase 3 explains the reactions of close others.


A three-phase model including interpersonal and socio-emotional elements can be used to shape and plan treatment interventions. Understanding causal chains and consequences can give a rationale for change and frame therapeutic interventions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.