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Abstract

Disclosing a mental illness can be difficult, especially for those affected by eating disorders. Individuals impacted by eating disorders often worry that disclosing their situation may lead to fear, judgment, and stigmatization. Online eating disorder communities have become increasingly popular, hosting thousands of users worldwide, and may be safe places for individuals with eating disorders to communicate and connect. In this postmodern study, we utilized situational analysis to examine online accounts on publically accessible websites where individuals discussed disclosing eating disorders. Situational Analysis utilizes illustrative mapping techniques to demonstrate the complexity of the situation of inquiry, allowing researchers to highlight heterogeneities. Our findings demonstrated (a) the fight that frequently occurs after an eating disorder disclosure, (b) the notion that eating disorders are a monstrous issue, and (c) stigmatization one experiences after disclosing and when considering to disclose. This study has potential to inform educational recommendations given to the public about disclosures and stigma in regard to eating disorders, as well as earlier identification and treatment outcomes for individuals with eating disorders.

Keywords

Eating Disorders, Situational Analysis, Disclosure, Social Media

Author Bio(s)

Emily P. Williams is a PhD candidate in the Counselling Psychology Program, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, with research interests in eating disorders, the experience of disclosure, and stigma. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: emily.williams@ucalgary.ca.

Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew is an Associate Professor and Werklund Research Professor in the Counselling Psychology Program, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, with research interests in weight-related issues. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: mkrussel@ucalgary.ca.

Alana Ireland is a PhD Candidate in the Counselling Psychology Program, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, with research interests in weight-related issues such as eating disorders, obesity, body image, and weight bias. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: adirelan@ucalgary.ca.

Publication Date

4-20-2018

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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