How women with anorexia portray themselves

February 15th, 2011 - 5:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 15 (ANI): Women suffering from anorexia or bulimia draw a different picture of themselves than women who do not have eating disorders, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Haifa, Soroka University Medical Center and Achva Academic College, Israel examined 76 women, 36 of whom had been diagnosed as anorexic or bulimic; 20 had no eating disorders but were overweight, and 20 had no eating disorders and were considered normal weight.

Each participant completed two standardized questionnaires for screening eating disorders and was then asked to draw herself.

The researchers then evaluated the drawings and found various differences between the groups in four aspects:

1. The neck - women suffering from anorexia tended to draw a larger neck, a disconnected neck or no neck at all;

2. The mouth - this feature was more emphasized in drawings by women suffering from anorexia or bulimia;

3. The thighs - women with eating disorders drew wider thighs than the other groups in the study;

4. The feet - women with eating disorders tended to draw pictures without feet or with disconnected feet.

The study also revealed that self-figure drawings could differentiate between anorexic and bulimic women.

Those with anorexia tended to omit breasts from their drawings, drew less defined bodylines and smaller figures relative to the page size.

In order to assess the reliability of the drawing test, the more pronounced results were compared with the two standardized eating disorders screening tests, and a very strong correlation was found between all the tests.

“The results of this study show that women suffering or prone to developing eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can be diagnosed with a simple and non-intrusive self-figure drawing assessment,” said Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Head of the Graduate School of Creative Art Therapies at the university of Haifa and a co-author of the study.”Women suffering from eating disorders usually tend to hide their condition, even from their professional therapists. They often find it difficult to talk about their problem, so a non-verbal and non-intrusive tool such as a simple request for a self-figure drawing can become an important tool in creative art therapy,” she added.

The study is published in The Arts in Psychotherapy. (ANI)

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