Potential link between body dysmorphic disorder symptoms and alexithymia in an eating-disordered treatment-seeking sample.

Abstract

This study aimed to explore the manifestation of body dysmorphic disorder symptoms in a sample of people with eating disorders and to investigate possible associations between body dysmorphia and alexithymia. Forty patients currently seeking treatment for an eating disorder completed a battery of six measures assessing alexithymia, mood, eating behaviours, weight-related body image, body dysmorphia and non-weight related body image. Significant moderate positive correlations (Pearson's r) between selected variables were found, suggesting that participants with high levels of dysmorphic concern (imagined ugliness) have more difficulty with the affective elements of alexithymia, that is, identifying and describing feelings. When depression, eating attitudes, and weight-related body image concerns were controlled for, significant moderate positive correlations between this alexithymia factor and dysmorphic concerns remained present. An independent-samples t-test between eating-disordered participants with and without symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) revealed significant group differences in difficulties identifying feelings. This pattern of results was replicated when the groups were identified on the basis of dysmorphic concerns, as opposed to BDD symptoms. This study highlights the associations between alexithymia and body dysmorphia that have not previously been demonstrated.

DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.07.011

Cite this paper

@article{Fenwick2011PotentialLB, title={Potential link between body dysmorphic disorder symptoms and alexithymia in an eating-disordered treatment-seeking sample.}, author={Andrea Si{\^a}n Fenwick and Karen Anne Sullivan}, journal={Psychiatry research}, year={2011}, volume={189 2}, pages={299-304} }