Anorexics See Others As Normal

Anorexia patients may have brain wiring that makes them think they are bigger

(RxWiki News) Can anorexics see body size accurately? In a test, anorexics saw other people as their actual size, but saw themselves as larger than they actually were.

A recent study showed 25 anorexia patients a door frame and asked them if they could fit through and if another person in the room could too. Results showed the anorexia patients thought they were too big to fit, but the other person would be fine.

"Have questions - talk to a eating disorder therapist."

Dewi Guardia, MD, from the University Hospital of Lille in France, led an investigation into how people with anorexia nervosa see body sizes.

For the study, 25 patients with anorexia and 25 controls were asked to stand in front of a stand-alone, specially constructed door frame.

Each person was asked if the door frame was wide enough for him or her to fit through.

Each person was then asked if the door frame was wide enough for another person in the testing room to fit through.

Results found that patients with anorexia believed they were too big to fit through the doorway.

Patients with anorexia accurately gauged whether the other person in the testing room could fit through the doorway.

These results showed that people without anorexia see themselves and others as the accurate size that they were.

People with anorexia were capable of seeing other people accurately, but saw themselves as larger than they actually were.

Anorexic patients saw themselves as much as 87 percent larger than they were in relation to being able to fit through the door.

Anorexic patients see the world as it really is, and have misperceptions about their own bodies alone.

Most of the anorexic patients gauged their body weight to be what it was prior to the onset of anorexia.

This information can be useful for the treatment of anorexia patients.

Authors suggested that this discovery could indicate problems in multisensory wiring of the brain.

Authors said, “Overestimation of the body schema might occur because the central nervous system has not updated the new, emaciated body, with maintenance of an incorrect representation based on the patient’s pre-anorexic body dimensions.”

This study was published in August in PLOS ONE. Funding was provided by the Fédération pour la Recherche Médicale, no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 22, 2012