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The Danger of Pride in Anorexia

The Danger of Pride in Anorexia

Pride can be a tricky thing. It can, however, be a very positive signal that we’ve accomplished a goal. Feeling proud is a natural, and usually positive, emotion. But for some, it can be a driving force that leads them down a dark path.

New research conducted through Rutgers University shows pride about continued weight loss may fuel eating disorders like anorexia. Nearly 120 women being treated for anorexia nervosa were studied and had their emotional states evaluated over a two-week period.

Researchers found participants in the study experienced negative emotions and positive emotions, especially a sense of pride over their perceived success in losing and continuing to lose weight.

“What we think happens is that positive emotions become exaggerated and are rewarding these maladaptive behaviors,” said Edward Selby, an author of the study. “Since only about one-third of women recover after treatment, what we need to do is gain a better understanding of why these positive emotions become so strongly associated with weight loss rather than with a healthy association such as family, school or relationships.”

Anyone who has been on a weight loss journey of their own can attest to the subtle power pride can have over your common sense. You lose some weight, see the results, and begin to think of ways to see even more results or see them even faster. For some, it means exercising more often. For others, pride in their accomplishment can lead to skipping meals to lose a couple more pounds.

This process can lead to eating disorders like anorexia, which has a death rate 12 times higher than all other causes of death for women between the ages of 15 and 24.

It was found in the study that women who had the most difficulty recognizing when their positive emotions like pride became skewed were more likely to engage in behaviors like restricting calories, excessively exercising and constantly checking their weight.

Selby believes an important part of treatment is helping channel the positive emotions into constructive behaviors.

“Being in control is important for many of these women,” he said. “What we need to do is find a way to reconnect the positive emotions they feel in losing weight to other aspects of their lives that will lead to a more balanced sense of happiness.”


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8:55AM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

it's all about getting attention

5:46PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

Hardly surprising.

5:45PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

Hardly surprising.

5:45PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

Hardly surprising.

5:23PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

it's amazing how easy it is, especially for young people, to make identities out of self-harm behaviors.

12:33AM PDT on Aug 18, 2014

Thank you :)

7:15AM PDT on Aug 12, 2014


11:10AM PDT on Aug 11, 2014

Anorexia is often associated with childhood abuse or neglect, especially sexual abuse. It should not be surprising that those with eating disorders are meeting an internal need with this behavior - that's why they do it, it makes them feel better! Focusing on the eating aspect is not productive - it is more important to get at why the person chooses this particular approach to feeling competent, and to help him/her find other ways to feel good about him/herself. It usually means getting into childhood interpersonal and family issues. It's not about really about eating, it's about feeling in control of your life.

---- Steve

1:10AM PDT on Aug 11, 2014

Studying and experimenting our real true self prevent most of the problems which are the result of the creation of self-images, some nice, some horrible and then the evaluation we and others give to it, the attachment we create when we like them, or the rejection when we dislike them. Focusing on the deeper layers of our identity instead of the physical appearance only.

8:31PM PDT on Aug 10, 2014


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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