Dimensions of emotion dysregulation in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A conceptual review of the empirical literature

Jason M. Lavender*, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Scott G. Engel, Kathryn H. Gordon, Walter H. Kaye, James E. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

347 Scopus citations

Abstract

Several existing conceptual models and psychological interventions address or emphasize the role of emotion dysregulation in eating disorders. The current article uses Gratz and Roemer's (2004) multidimensional model of emotion regulation and dysregulation as a clinically relevant framework to review the extant literature on emotion dysregulation in anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). Specifically, the dimensions reviewed include: (1) the flexible use of adaptive and situationally appropriate strategies to modulate the duration and/or intensity of emotional responses, (2) the ability to successfully inhibit impulsive behavior and maintain goal-directed behavior in the context of emotional distress, (3) awareness, clarity, and acceptance of emotional states, and (4) the willingness to experience emotional distress in the pursuit of meaningful activities. The current review suggests that both AN and BN are characterized by broad emotion regulation deficits, with difficulties in emotion regulation across the four dimensions found to characterize both AN and BN, although a small number of more specific difficulties may distinguish the two disorders. The review concludes with a discussion of the clinical implications of the findings, as well as a summary of limitations of the existing empirical literature and suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume40
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Affect dysregulation
  • Affect regulation
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotion regulation

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