Stigmatization of Anorexia Nervosa

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The current study examined the perceptions about an individual with anorexia nervosa (AN) relative to perceptions about a healthy person and a person with another mental or nonmental illness.


Ninety-one participants recruited from the community completed questionnaires targeting perceptions about 4 individuals: a healthy person, a person with asthma, a person with schizophrenia, and a person with AN.


Evaluations of personal characteristics were most negative for persons with AN. Participants believed the person with AN was most to blame for his/her condition, was best able to pull him/herself together if he/she wanted to, and was most acting this way for attention and that biological factors were least relevant in developing the illness.


Negative perceptions of a person with AN fell into stigma categories of self-attribution and responsibility. These attitudes may contribute to reluctance to seek treatment among individuals with AN.

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