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Clin Psychol Psychother. 2009 Jul-Aug;16(4):317-27. doi: 10.1002/cpp.629.

An exploration of the main sources of shame in an eating-disordered population.

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  • 1Psychology Department, Lynebank Hospital, Fife, UK.



Shame has received increased attention over recent years and has been shown to be a feature of many forms of psychopathology, including eating disorders. The current study contributes to this field by exploring relationships between shame and a variety of factors hypothesized to contribute to shame in a sample of 52 females with eating disorders.


A cross-sectional questionnaire design was used.


Participants were 52 women with eating disorders. They completed six questionnaires: The Experience of Shame Scale, the Parental Bonding Inventory, the Social Isolation Subscale of the Young Schema Questionnaire, the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale and the Hospital Anxiety & Depression Scale.


High levels of shame were observed, and not only shame around eating. A multiple regression analysis, with shame as the dependent variable and other variables as predictor variables revealed that the Social Isolation schema explained a substantial amount of total shame scores. Negative experiences of maternal care and eating disorder pathology also contributed a small but significant amount to the variance in shame scores.


People with eating disorders experience generalized shame in relation to many aspects of their self and behaviour, not just shame around eating. Implications for future research, including the importance of prospective longitudinal designs, are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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