Low Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders

Powerful Essays
What is Self-Esteem...

Self-esteem has recently been defined by Silverstone as "the sense of contentment and self-acceptance that stems from a person's appraisal of their own worth, significance, attractiveness, competence and ability to satisfy their aspirations" (Silverstone 1992). Self-esteem is the degree to which a person values and respects themselves, and is proud of their accomplishments. Self-esteem begins to develop in childhood, but it solidifies and gains momentum during the turbulent and trying years of adolescence. The teenage years tend to be a crucial "make it or break it" period when it comes to self-esteem because it is at this time that youngsters are searching for an identity. If this process goes awry, the teen is likely to have negative feelings about the self, leading to a low sense of self-esteem. Many recent studies have provided evidence that disruptions in the formation and stability of one's self-esteem can lead to various psychological problems, such as eating disorders.

Are Low Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders Related?

Although it is often thought of as only an "anecdotal contention that low selfesteem is a trait of eating disorders" (Wilfiams 1993), this fact has been empirically proven time and time again. With the use of various questionnaires and inventories, researchers such as Schupak-Neuberg, Rosen and Button have found that low self-esteem occurs very commonly in patients with eating disorders. In some cases, evidence for this relationship is so strong that it is even thought by some researchers that chronic low self-esteem is a necessary prerequisite for disordered eating (Silverstone 1992). A profile of self-concept components that are characteristic of low self-esteem are insec...

... middle of paper ...

...onal Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 18, (4), 317-326. March, 1995.

Rosen, James C., Bruce E. Compas, and Barbara Tracy. "The relation among stress, psychological symptoms, and eating disorder symptoms: A prospective analysis". International Journal of Fating Disorders. Vol. 14, (2), 153-162. 1993.

Schupak-Neuberg, Erika, and Carol J. Nemeroff. "Disturbances in identity and selfregulation in bulimia nervosa: Implications for a metaphorical perspective of "Body as Self"'. International Journal of Eating Disorders. Vol. 13, (4), 335-347. 1993.

Silverstone, P.H. "Is chronic low self-esteem the cause of eating disorders?". Medical Hypotheses. Vol. 39, 311-315. 1992.

Steinhausen, Hans-Christoph, and Margarete Voltrath. "The self-image of adolescent patients with eating disorders". International Journal of Eating Disorders.. Vol. 13, (2), 221-227. 1993.
Get Access