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J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2001 Sep;32(3):107-15.

Perceptual illusions in eating disorders: rigid and fluctuating styles.

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  • 1Eating Disorders Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.


This study investigated perceptual styles in anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) using a perceptual set task. We hypothesised that, consistent with personality style research. AN patients might be more rigid in style than those with BN or no eating disorder. We found that once an illusion had been established, participants with AN and BN showed more illusions than non-ED women. However, while AN patients responded rigidly, giving the same response repeatedly, BN patients were more likely to change their responses. The study suggests interesting differences to be followed up in future research. Differences in rigid and fluctuating perceptual styles may have implications for understanding the phenomenology of eating disorders, and have implications for treatment.

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