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Steven Tsao - Perfectionism and Eating Disorder: Personal and Professional Perspectives

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For the 2016 Annual OCD Conference

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Steven Tsao - Perfectionism and Eating Disorder: Personal and Professional Perspectives

  1. 1. Perfectionism and Eating Disorders: Personal and Professional Perspectives Steven D. Tsao, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania Jenni Schaefer Eating Recovery Center
  2. 2. Anorexia Nervosa A. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low weight is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal or, for children and adolescents, less than that minimally expected. – Mild: BMI ≥ 17 kg/m2 – Moderate: BMI 16–16.99 kg/m2 – Severe: BMI 15–15.99 kg/m2 – Extreme: BMI < 15 kg/m2
  3. 3. Anorexia Nervosa (con’t) A. Intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight. B. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight. • Restricting type and binge-eating/purging type • Lifetime prevalence: 0.9% female, 0.3% males (Hudson et al., 2007) • 10:1 female to male ratio
  4. 4. Bulimia Nervosa A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following: – Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances. – A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating). B. Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise. C. The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for 3 months. D. Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  5. 5. Bulimia Nervosa (con’t) • The minimum level of severity is based on the frequency of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (see below). The level of severity may be increased to reflect other symptoms and the degree of functional disability. – Mild: An average of 1–3 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week. – Moderate: An average of 4–7 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week. – Severe: An average of 8–13 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week. – Extreme: An average of 14 or more episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week. • Lifetime prevalence: 1.5% females, 0.5% males (Hudson et al., 2007) • 10:1 female to male ratio
  6. 6. Binge-Eating Disorder A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following: – Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances. – A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating). B. The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following: – Eating much more rapidly than normal. – Eating until feeling uncomfortably full. – Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry. – Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating. – Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward. C. Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  7. 7. Binge-Eating Disorder (con’t) D. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months. E. The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. • Mild: 1–3 binge-eating episodes per week. • Moderate: 4–7 binge-eating episodes per week. • Severe: 8–13 binge-eating episodes per week. • Extreme: 14 or more binge-eating episodes per week. • Twelve-month prevalence among U.S. adults females and males is 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively (Hudson et al. 2007)
  8. 8. Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorder • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): An eating/feeding disturbance (e.g., lack of interest in food, avoidance based on sensory characteristics, concern about aversive consequences of eating) manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional needs associated with: significant weight loss, significant nutritional deficiency, dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements, or marked interference with psychosocial functioning. • Night eating syndrome: Recurrent episodes of night eating, as manifested by eating after awakening from sleep or by excessive food consumption after the evening meal. There is awareness and recall of the eating. The night eating is not better explained by external influences such as changes in the individual’s sleep-wake cycle or by local social norms. The night eating causes significant distress and/or impairment in functioning. The disordered pattern of eating is not better explained by binge-eating disorder or another mental disorder, including substance use, and is not attributable to another medical disorder or to an effect of medication.
  9. 9. Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorder • Atypical anorexia nervosa: All of the criteria for anorexia nervosa are met, except that despite significant weight loss, the individual’s weight is within or above the normal range. • Bulimia nervosa (of low frequency and/or limited duration): All of the criteria for bulimia nervosa are met, except that the binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors occur, on average, less than once a week and/or for less than 3 months. • Binge-eating disorder (of low frequency and/or limited duration): All of the criteria for binge-eating disorder are met, except that the binge eating occurs, on average, less than once a week and/or for less than 3 months. • Purging disorder: Recurrent purging behavior to influence weight or shape (e.g., self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications) in the absence of binge eating.
  10. 10. The Iceberg metaphor Eating disorder behavior Obsessions about food/weight Body image concerns Low self esteem/self-worth Feelings of powerlessness Family conflict Interpersonal stressors/issues Anxiety Poor emotion regulation skills Trauma Perfectionism
  11. 11. Perfectionism in our society • “Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi • “The relentless pursuit of perfection” – Lexus • A perfect game in baseball • “Picture perfect”
  12. 12. Perfectionism • A multidimensional concept (Franco-Paredes et al., 2005) – High standards of performance – Excessively critical evaluations of behavior – Concern over mistakes • Szymanski (2011) – Absence of mistakes or flaws – Personal standards – Meeting an expectation – Order and organization – “Just right” experiences – Absolute certainty, knowledge, safety – The best
  13. 13. The role of perfectionism • Often a part of OCD rituals and sometimes the primary obsession… • And… • A demonstrated risk factor that predates and exacerbates ED symptoms and remains intact after weight restoration in anorexia (Fairburn et al., 1999; Halmi et al., 2000; Kaye et al., 1998)
  14. 14. Jenni My Story
  15. 15. Perfectionism in EDs • Striving for perfect body, shape, or weight • Exclusively eating “good” foods • Criticizing “lazy” behaviors • Striving for perfection in school, work, and relationships
  16. 16. Addressing perfectionism • Perfectionism can be viewed as a personality trait and not a disorder – It‘s both adaptive and maladaptive – The intentions are good, but behaviors sometimes “pay off” and sometimes “backfire”
  17. 17. Perfectionism payoffs • Think about a time when your perfectionism paid off – What happened? – How did it feel? – Did other’s notice? What did they say? – Did it lead to other rewards?
  18. 18. Costs of perfectionism • Think about that same example, but now focus on the downsides – What happened that you didn’t like? – How much time did you spend on it? – What other things got neglected or pushed aside while you were working on this? – How did it feel? – How did it impact other people, especially those closest to you? – What did it make you think about yourself?
  19. 19. Maladaptive perfectionism • In general, unhealthy perfectionism is operating when your behavior, choices and strategies are driven by: – A fear of failure – Chronic concerns about making mistakes – Constant doubting of yourself – Repeated attempts to live up to others’ expectations of you – Always falling short of self-made goals – Your costs outweigh your payoffs
  20. 20. Adaptive Perfectionism • Pays off more often than it costs you • Encourages you to achieve high but achievable standards • Leads to feelings of satisfaction and increased self-esteem
  21. 21. Addressing perfectionism • Perfectionism can be viewed as a personality trait and not a disorder – It‘s both adaptive and maladaptive – The intentions are good, but behaviors sometimes “pay off” and sometimes “backfire” – [Gray out in end format] • Goal = Conscientiousness – Matches perfectionism’s intentions with effective strategies to maximize adaptive outcomes • Targeted areas of change – Increase awareness of pros and cons of current perfectionism – Analyze cost-benefit ratio of current behaviors – Explore the impact of perfectionism on goals and standards – consider client strengths and weaknesses – Sensitizing people to “mental habits” during evaluations – Turning failure into learning
  22. 22. Cost-Benefit Ratio • Thinking of the payoffs and the costs, which one do you experience more often? • Do the payoffs happen more than the costs? • Do you spend more time dealing with costs than basking in the glory of payoffs? • Regardless of your ratio, ask yourself “How satisfied am I with this ratio?” • What area of perfectionism are you most dissatisfied?
  23. 23. Finding lost success • A story from the pharmaceutical world… • Striving to achieve a goal through perfectionism may blind you to valuable information or perhaps other successes! • Tunnel vision • Widening your scope can help you immediately catch missed opportunities to feel satisfied, competent, and proud.
  24. 24. Perfectionism as habit • “I don’t know another way” • Trying to achieve perfection has known outcome (your payoff-cost ratio) – What’s the outcome when you try to be “high average” or “80% perfect”? • We can only find out by experimenting! – If it feels “wrong” or “different” it’s working! – Exposures to feared outcomes of Imperfection
  25. 25. Perfectionism as habit • Procrastination – Avoid torture of having to do it perfectly – Preserve illusion of perfection with built in excused for poor performance • Try setting a time goal instead – I’ll work on this for 60 minutes
  26. 26. Jenni My Recovery
  27. 27. Thank you! Steven D. Tsao, Ph.D. stsao@mail.med.upenn.edu University of Pennsylvania Jenni Schaefer Jenni.schaefer@eatingrecovery.com National Recovery Advocate, Eating Recovery Center, Family Institute

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