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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • eating disorder;
  • emotion;
  • emotion regulation

[Clin Psychol Sci Prac 18: 183–202, 2011]

Successful treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN) has been elusive, and the disorder remains poorly understood. Emotion dysregulation is a mechanism that recent evidence suggests may underlie many psychological disorders. However, research and treatment with the AN population have neither focused on the role of emotions in the development and maintenance of the disorder nor aimed therapeutic interventions toward improving emotion regulation abilities. In this article, the utility of applying a focus on emotion dysregulation to the theoretical understanding of AN is explicated. Evidence is reviewed that supports application of a transactional model of emotion regulation to the understanding of AN, and a model is described that is consistent with the available data. Important treatment implications and future research directions are discussed.