Anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with difficulties in emotion regulation and this study aimed to examine emotion regulation experimentally in this group compared to healthy controls (HCs). Sixty-six women took part: 22 with AN and 44 HCs. Both groups completed the Rosenzweig Picture Frustration Study in which participants’ responses to socially frustrating situations are scored regarding the direction of aggression/anger (outwardly/inwardly or neutralized) and type of aggression/anger (focused on the people or the obstacles in the situation, or solution-focused). Individuals with AN provided significantly fewer solution-focused responses and focused aggression on the people in the situation more often than HCs. There was also a trend for the AN group to neutralize aggression less compared to HCs. The findings support models of AN which suggest that difficulties with emotional processing, particularly around anger are associated with AN. Future work could explore these initial findings in a larger sample. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Key Practitioner Message:
• Individuals with anorexia nervosa may use different strategies to regulate anger/aggression in social situations compared to controls, and may focus aggression on people in the situation and provide fewer solution focused responses.
• These findings may be useful to consider when working with patients to improve social emotional functioning.