Document Type

Honors Paper


Taleb Khairallah

Publication Date



The following paper is a qualitative and correlational study of narratives written by individuals with some current or past experience of an eating disorder. These narratives, which were retrieved from online communities of “eating disorder confession” sites, were collected and coded for the presence of emotions and motives of self-harm. 250 narratives were coded from two websites, used in the study for their keyword relevance. The aim of the project was threefold: the first aim was an attempt to encapsulate the eating disorder experience from the perspective of those currently suffering or in recovery from an eating disorder. This goal was addressed through the use of the emotionality codebook, developed by the researcher. The second aim of this study was to examine the way in which eating disorders could potentially be conceptualized as a form of self-harm. From a transdiagnostic approach, it could be theorized that self-harm and eating disorders are two symptoms of a larger range of psychopathologies: though they present differently, they are both ways in which individuals harm their bodies for the purpose of emotion regulation. This goal was addressed by coding the eating disorder narratives against the four foundational motives proposed to explain why individuals engage in self-harm. The third aim, which examined patterns of the emotional codes in their correlational relationship to their motive code, would lend additional support to the second aim. Creating the emotional narrative of eating disorders, as well as the successful coding for self-harm motives will be discussed in its relevance for conceptualization and treatment for the two psychopathologies.

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The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.