Experiences of Women with Bulimia Nervosa

  • Kathryn Proulx


This chapter presents the day-to-day experiences of six college-age women living with symptoms of bulimia nervosa for a number of years. The data emerged from a broader study that looked at the experiences of these women before and after participating in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Eating Disorder Treatment Group. This chapter will focus on the women’s experience of themselves prior to participating in the mindfulness treatment group. The women in the study ranged from first year undergraduate students to all-but-dissertation graduate students from a 5-college area in New England, USA. Sources of data included audiotaped interviews, self-portraits, and journal entries. Data was analyzed for common themes using a phenomenological Hermeneutic methodology. The themes that are presented in this chapter not only reveal participants’ fragile sense of self, but also that they cope with stress and emotions by waging war against that very vulnerable, fragile self. They are besieged by feelings of self-loathing and imperfection, and the very behaviors that are aimed at reducing these feelings only serve to create further isolation, shame, and guilt. Family and cultural influences are also reflected in the data. Findings revealed that bulimia nervosa is a mind–body disorder that requires a trauma-informed, phase model, multidisciplinary treatment approach that includes concurrent medical, nutritional, and psychological interventions.


Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Panic Attack Borderline Personality Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Cognitive behavioral treatment


Dialectical behavioral treatment


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing



In gratitude to the woman whose personal stories are depicted in this chapter. May their courage and honesty inspire other women along their journeys towards recovery.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mental Health ServicesUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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