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Anorexia Nervosa as a Disorder of Emotion Regulation: Theory, Evidence, and Treatment Implications


Address correspondence to Rhonda M. Merwin, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, DUMC Box 3842, Durham, NC 27710. E-mail:


[Clin Psychol Sci Prac 18: 208–214, 2011]

This is a commentary on Haynos and Fruzzetti (2011). The commentary begins with a discussion of how emotion has been included in the conceptualization of anorexia nervosa (AN) for some time, although this has not culminated into an experimental science on somatic-affective arousal in this patient population. Important gaps in our knowledge of how individuals with AN experience signals from the body (including emotion) are highlighted, as is the lack of attention in the Haynos and Fruzzetti model to differences in emotional experience in the acute and chronic stages of the illness. Final comments are made about the focus of AN intervention, specifically how the functional significance of the symptoms can be an afterthought because of the need to restore nutrition, and the utility of identifying common and distinct processes across eating disorder diagnoses.