Award Date

12-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Russell T. Hurlburt, Chair

Second Committee Member

Christopher Heavey

Third Committee Member

Marta Meana

Graduate Faculty Representative

Mark J. Lutz

Number of Pages

531

Abstract

Despite 30 years of research, much remains unknown about inner experience in individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN); yet attaining a clearer understanding of inner experience in BN may prove to be crucial in uncovering the nature of this profoundly disruptive disorder. The present study used Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) to examine inner experience in 13 participants with BN, replicating to some degree Doucette (1992) and Jones-Forrester (2006). Results in the present study were largely consistent with Doucette (1992) and Jones-Forrester (2006) but substantially different from beliefs about inner experience from the extant non-exploratory DES BN literature. Specifically, the present study found (as did previous DES studies of BN) that inner experience in BN is most saliently characterized by fragmented multiplicity, in which there is a pronounced division of attention and a striking inability to maintain a clear and single focus of attention. The present study found that individuals with BN frequently had an intense focus on the sensory aspects of ongoing phenomena, which often included a pronounced awareness or hypersensitivity to bodily sensations. Inner experience among individuals with BN in the present study was also characterized by unsymbolized thinking, inner speech, inner seeing, affect that is poorly differentiated and often confused with cognition, and interfering phenomena, in which participants were consciously attempting to interfere with or disconnect from ongoing process related to food, weight, shape, appearance, or BN-related behaviors. These results suggest that DES has utility for the direct examination of inner experience in BN, and that this examination may challenge currently held beliefs about the experiential nature of BN. Exploration of inner experience in individuals with BN allows for the expansion of our understanding of BN. The present study largely replicated previous DES BN studies and yielded previously unexamined phenomena that may prove important in the design of new, more effective intervention and prevention strategies.

Keywords

Bulimia-- Psychological aspects; Introspection

Disciplines

Health Psychology | Psychology

Language

English


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