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When do anorexic patients perceive their body as too fat? Aggravating and ameliorating factors

  • Objective Our study investigated body image representations in female patients with anorexia nervosa and healthy controls using a size estimation with pictures of their own body. We also explored a method to reduce body image distortions through right hemispheric activation. Method Pictures of participants’ own bodies were shown on the left or right visual fields for 130 ms after presentation of neutral, positive, or negative word primes, which could be self-relevant or not, with the task of classifying the picture as “thinner than”, “equal to”, or “fatter than” one’s own body. Subsequently, activation of the left- or right hemispheric through right- or left-hand muscle contractions for 3 min., respectively. Finally, participants completed the size estimation task again. Results The distorted “fatter than” body image was found only in patients and only when a picture of their own body appeared on the right visual field (left hemisphere) and was preceded by negative self-relevant words. This distorted perception of the patients’ body image was reduced after left-hand muscle contractions (right hemispheric activation). Discussion To reduce body image distortions it is advisable to find methods that help anorexia nervosa patients to increase their self-esteem. The body image distortions were ameliorated after right hemispheric activation. A related method to prevent distorted body-image representations in these patients may be Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

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Author:Nicola Baumann, Miguel Kazén, Janne F. Twenhöfel, Julius Kuhl
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Editor:Mariella Pazzaglia
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2019/04/03
Date of publication:2019/02/22
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2019/04/03
Tag:physiological parameters
GND Keyword:Aktivierung; Anorexia nervosa; Körpererfahrung; Patientin; Rechte Hemisphäre; Reduktion; Verstärkung; Verzerrung
Volume (for the year ...):14
Issue / no.:2
Number of pages:18
Source:PLoS ONE 14 (2019)
Institutes:Fachbereich 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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