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UPDATE: Negative Images and Automatic Thoughts Can Trigger Vomiting

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
January/February 2003 Volume 14, Number 1
©2003 Gürze Books

Patients with emotional disorders often experience negative imagery that can be traced to core beliefs and memories of childhood trauma. At the annual meeting of the Eating Disorders Research Society, in Charleston, SC, last November, British researchers reported that negative automatic thoughts (related to core beliefs of defectiveness/shame) and recurring negative visual images may play important roles in triggering vomiting in bulimic patients. Thirty bulimic women were interviewed about their thoughts before vomiting; in addition, the women completed two self-report questionnaires of core beliefs and post-traumatic cognitions. Dr. Hendrik Hinrichsen and colleagues found that just before vomiting, most bulimic patients reported having thoughts relating to a core belief of defectiveness and felt shame and anxiety. Most reported that the feelings triggered vomiting. In addition, the women reported having visual images that were recurrent and linked to early traumatic memories. Finally, women who reported visual images prior to vomiting reported having more post-traumatic thoughts and beliefs than those who did not. It remains to be se this information can be translated into possible therapy to help reduce purging behaviors.


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