Women who currently have or have recovered from anorexia find emotional touch less enjoyable – PsyPost

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by atypical and unhealthy eating behaviors, a disturbed body image, and an extremely low body mass index. People with this disorder can also show disturbances in internal processing, which is the understanding of internal bodily states such as hunger, pain, and attention to the gut.

A new research has been published in Scientific Reports She found that women who currently had or had recovered from anorexia had less anorexia compared to women who had never been diagnosed with anorexia.

Prior investigations examining the link between interoceptive deficits and [anorexia nervosa] They focused primarily on non-rewarding intersensitivity signals, including pain (heat), neutral (heart rate) interference signals, and symptom-specific interference signals. [anorexia nervosa] (hunger and taste), with only a few studies focusing instead on rewarding internal stimuli, such as a pleasant, foreplay-like emotional touch,” write study author Ashley Bellard and colleagues.

The researchers aim to address this gap in the current study by examining whether indirect ratings of social touch differ in women who have not been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Indirect third-party touch was measured as previous research suggests that people with anorexia use their own experience to rate the pleasure of touch even when they notice social touch in others.

Previous research also indicates that women with anorexia nervosa report difficulty experiencing closeness with partners, decreased relationship satisfaction, fear of intimacy, and avoidance of intimate interpersonal relationships with others.

The researchers recruited a total sample of 91 women of type belonging to one of three distinct categories: those with a current diagnosis of anorexia, those who had recovered from a previous diagnosis of anorexia, and those who had never been diagnosed with anorexia. The researchers recruited only women for this study because women are usually more sensitive to touch and because eating disorders are more common in women. Participants were recruited by contacting eating disorder charities and through social media.

Participants completed measures to assess their eating disorder symptoms, inner awareness, and touch experiences and situations. Participants watched videos of an actor (man) touching another actor (woman) in 5 different areas of the body (palm, back, forearm, cheek and upper arm) and 3 distinct speeds (hard touch, slow blow, fast blow). After watching each video, participants were asked how much they wanted to be touched in the way described in the video and how much they thought the woman in the video enjoyed being touched.

The results show that the total back touch was rated as more pleasurable with the humerus, forearm, and palm being more pleasurable than the cheek. In general, participants rated the women in the video as loving touch more than they would themselves. Participants in the control condition (not diagnosed with anorexia) had the highest rates of overall happiness compared to the two other groups. Happiness ratings did not differ between those with a current or previous diagnosis of anorexia.

Importantly, the no-diagnostic control group rated the slow-speed touch as more pleasurable than the other two diagnostic groups. The control group also showed higher pleasure rates for fast speed touch compared to the previously diagnosed group.

“We observed significant differences in subjective assessments of experience and attitude to social touch across all areas of the touch experience and between the three groups. In fact, [women in the anorexia nervosa group] reported a significantly less positive experience of familiar and unfamiliar touch, as well as intimate touch, compared to [women in the control group]Researchers.

“Interestingly, there is a significant regression equation for self-reports of touch experiences and touch pleasure in general [women in the anorexia nervosa group], especially for self-directed direct touch to support this idea. With these regards, it was found that a positive attitude to intimate touch was positively correlated with general touch pleasantness for current anorexia patients (but also for [women in the control group]), when it comes to self-touching.”

The researchers note some limitations to this work including the self-report nature of the procedures and the lack of a physical touch condition. There may also be other variables affecting touch pleasure that were not measured in this study, such as mood, general touch avoidance, and other related personality traits.

the study, “Differential ratings of self versus other directed social touch in women with and recovering from anorexia nervosa‘, written by Ashley Bellard, Paula Trotter, Frances McGlone, and Valentina Catato.


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