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Negative childhood events and the development of the anorexic voice: A grounded theory

Morrison, Jet, Williams, Marc O. and Fox, John R. E. ORCID: 2022. Negative childhood events and the development of the anorexic voice: A grounded theory. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice 95 (4) , pp. 1018-1035. 10.1111/papt.12416

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Abstract: Background: Many individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (AN) describe their disorder as being represented by an internal ‘anorexic voice’ (AV). Previous studies have identified associations between eating psychopathology and multifarious forms of adverse life experiences. Aims: This study explores the relationship between adverse experiences in childhood and the development of the AV. Materials and Methods: Twelve women who had the experience of the AV in the context of a diagnosis of AN took part in semi‐structured interviews. The interview data were analysed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. Results: Participants recalled feeling unsafe in a variety of relationships and a theory was constructed in which the AV provides a sense of conditional safety, becoming increasingly hostile and belittling when it is disobeyed, revealing similar characteristics to abusers and bullies in childhood. Discussion: Findings are related to the broader literature on the link between trauma and eating disorders, and to existing theories of internal voices. Conclusions: The findings have implications for a trauma‐focused approach when working with the AV.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: The British Psychological Society
ISSN: 1476-0835
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 25 June 2022
Last Modified: 07 May 2023 04:46

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