Patients With Anorexia Nervosa Who Self-Injure: A Phenomenological Study

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Abstract

PURPOSE:

This study investigates self-injury from the perspective of patients with anorexia nervosa.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

A phenomenological design was used. Twelve patients participated. Data were collected using a semi-structured interview guide.

FINDINGS:

Participants display self-injurious behavior predominantly in situations when they are forced to eat. They are terrified of gaining weight and use self-injurious behavior to cope with their anxiety. Self-injury is envisioned as a technique to regain control of their own eating pattern without bothering anyone. They feel shame for not controlling their emotions more constructively.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Healthcare professionals should systematically observe signals and explore less harmful strategies that help to regulate overwhelming feelings.

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