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Eating for safety, not survival : lessons from schema theory for eating disorder treatment

by Harburg, Rebecca Eve


Using the framework of schema theory from cognitive anthropology as implemented by Roy G. D’Andrade (1995) and Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn (1997), the current study analyzes the language use of participants in an eating disorder support group meeting, of three interviewees who have a history of at least one eating disorder, and of three interviewees who have played a role in eating disorder treatment: a licensed professional counselor who works as a research associate for a biomedical organization, a registered dietician who works in private practice at an organization with a multidimensional approach to food and body issues, and a recent graduate of a master’s in acupuncture and Oriental medicine program who intends to specialize in the treatment of eating disorders. The study took place in and around Portland, OR. It culminated in four schemas related to eating from the viewpoint of individuals with eating disorders, which pointed to an underlying metaphor linking eating and being. The practitioners’ language use reflected acknowledgment of these schemas and of the metaphor driving them at varying degrees. Therefore this study concludes that eating disorder treatment necessitates a complementary approach involving biomedicine primarily in extreme cases, the holistic thinking of Oriental medicine, the philosophy of intuitive eating, and support from loved ones—at the table and elsewhere.


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Includes bibliographical references.

Administrative Notes

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Copyright restrictions apply.
Colorado College
Digital Origin
born digital
56 pages : illustration
Senior Thesis -- Colorado College
Thesis Advisor
Leza, Christina
Degree Name
Degree Type
Bachelor of Arts
Degree Grantor
Colorado College
Date Issued