“Our Results Are Unexpected, So The Participants Must Have Been in Denial”: Exploring a Worrying Trend in Eating Disorders Research

Something I have come across several times when reading ED research studies is a disclaimer that research has been dutifully carried out, but the findings have to be viewed with some scepticism because the participants (and – more specifically – the participants with AN-R) were in denial when completing the self-report questionnaires.

In this post, I will to look at a couple of recent studies that flag-up this issue, to examine what is behind this disclaimer.

The first paper I will explore was published very recently by Gailledrat et al. and touches on body shape concerns in women with eating disorders. Participants were women with a diagnosis of AN or BN selected from a clinic in France. The researchers inform us that, “patients with an ED are much more concerned with their body image and weight than the rest of the population”. The authors do not provide any support for … Continue reading →

Self-Denial, Secrecy and Deliberate Lying in Eating Disorders

I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I’ve already eaten, thanks,” “No thanks, I’m going be eating later,” or “I’d love to, but I’ve got a stomach ache,” when I actually hadn’t eaten, wasn’t going to eat later, and didn’t have a stomach ache. Why did I do that? Did I realize I had, or was developing, an eating disorder? How long did it take for that realization to click? And once it did, did I stop lying to avoid eating with others or did I do it more?

A lot of questions spring up when you start thinking about secrecy, denial, and lying as it related to eating disorders. And answering these questions by having to remember what you thought when you first began to show signs of your eating disorder is hard. It is hard for many reasons, but one reason is that the we feel about … Continue reading →