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There is more to it than just being thin: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of patients’ perceptions of anorexia nervosa

Özbek Şimşek, Derya
Anorexia nervosa has become an increasing health concern in the society since it is not only affecting individuals but also their families. It results in a significant impairment in the individual’s health and psychosocial functioning in life. The primary purpose of this study was to examine anorexia nervosa experiences of Turkish women with the diagnosis. The focus of the study is to understand the meaning and function that the individuals’ attributed to their experiences. Therefore, a qualitative research was conducted in order to explore both the subjective experiences of individauls and culture-spesific dynamics related to the symptoms. Purposive sampling consisted of six females diagnosed with restricted subtype of anorexia nervosa. Semi-structured interviews were conducted once with each of the participants and these interviews were analyzed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. As a result of the analysis, six super-ordinate themes were emerged. These were “food deprivation as a substitute for privation of love and care; food deprivation to compensate for the feelings of loss of control and freedom; receiving love and care from the family: repairing the broken relationship; others as a reference point: the importance of others’ thoughts and acceptance; is anorexia nervosa the only way out?: expressing resentment and anger through punishing others; distracting attention away from relational problems: “I was dealing with what I ate to keep my mind occupied.” The results of the presenting study were discussed in light of the relevant literature, and clinical implications stemmed from these results were explained in detail.