Recent research has suggested that normal adolescent processes are important in understanding psychosis, and that young adult individuals with psychosis are often struggling to develop an individual and autonomous self (the "fundamental task" of adolescence). The current paper explores the utility of considering normative adolescent developmental processes in understanding anorexia nervosa. Data were collected from 31 female young-adults with symptoms of anorexia nervosa, 26 female comparison young-adults and 71 female adolescents on measures of adolescent egocentrism. A one-way ANOVA indicated that individuals with symptoms of anorexia nervosa scored more highly than both their peers and the adolescents on several dimensions of egocentric developmental beliefs. Correlations also showed that egocentrism was positively associated with eating concern in participants with symptoms of anorexia. The results suggest that young-adult women with symptoms of anorexia nervosa tended to feel physically invulnerable while also feeling both psychologically vulnerable to others and special or different. Together with the finding of excessive self-consciousness, this supports a notion that they may be experiencing exaggerated versions of normal self-developmental phenomena. Clinically, offering alternative ways of feeling unique other than dieting may be important in therapeutic approaches to anorexia nervosa. Similarly, strategies aimed at normalisation, such as facilitating healthy attachment to peers, may be useful for individuals with anorexia nervosa.
- Anorexia nervosa