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Phenomenological approaches to understanding pro-anorexia. / Elina Hailey, Telford
Swansea University Author: Elina Hailey, Telford
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Background/aim: Pro-anorexia is a relatively new internet phenomenon. Few papers have been published on the topic; however, these have largely focused on the content of the sites and the effects of viewing them. The studies presented in the thesis were designed to inform our understanding of both th...
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Background/aim: Pro-anorexia is a relatively new internet phenomenon. Few papers have been published on the topic; however, these have largely focused on the content of the sites and the effects of viewing them. The studies presented in the thesis were designed to inform our understanding of both the lifeworld and lived experiences of pro-anorexia, with a view to informing both academic and clinical understanding of the phenomenon. Design: Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was employed to explore the lived experience and descriptive phenomenology (DP) was utilised to investigate the lifeworld of the pro-anorexic user. Methods: Eight females were recruited to interviews, which were later transcribed and analysed with IPA. Two pro-anorexic blogs were identified one of which was written by a female and the other a male; these were analysed using DP. Results: The IPA study identified sub-ordinate themes: 'trajectory', 'boosting of the self and 'thinspiration', each with their own independent subordinate themes. The blog studies produced differing themes; however, the studies collectively demonstrated similarities which contributed to the understanding of why people may use these and subsequently disengage from the websites across the stages of eating disorder illness. Conclusion: Pro-anorexia clearly has a significant meaning and is very consuming for its users who present with eating disorder symptoms across the spectrum of illness. Clinicians should adopt a clinical stance (Geller, Williams and Srikameswaran, 2001) which fosters curiosity and acceptance, whilst suspending judgment when working with clients with eating disorders, specifically those who use pro-ana. In doing this it is anticipated that shame associated with use will be reduced and in being heard, users will be less likely to resort to pro-anorexic materials. It has been found that where services fail to work with the clients current stage of change (Prochaska and DiClemente, 1983) then pro-anorexic use is likely to re-occur. The findings of the studies included in this thesis also demonstrate a need for contributors to both popular and academic media alike, to engage in wider consultation to establish the most useful way in which to present pro-anorexia in the public and academic domain and hence, provide warnings on the topic, rather than signpost those who are vulnerable to eating disorder symptomology.
College of Human and Health Sciences