"Everyone here wants everyone else to get better": the role of social identity in eating disorder recovery

McNamara, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-3123-3678 and Parsons, H., 2016. "Everyone here wants everyone else to get better": the role of social identity in eating disorder recovery. British Journal of Social Psychology, 55 (4), pp. 662-680. ISSN 0144-6665

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Retention of a positively valued illness identity contributes to poor outcomes for individuals with eating disorders. Consequently, dis-identification from the illness identity and the adoption of a recovery identity is vital for successful recovery. While social identity processes have been shown to influence eating disorder maintenance, their role in recovery is rarely considered. This study explores how a sense of shared identity helps individuals with eating disorders manage their condition and promotes recovery. Transcripts from 18 online support sessions involving 75 participants were thematically analysed. Our findings suggest that the illness identity initially operates as a social identity that forms the basis for connections with similar others. For those
wishing to recover, identity-based support is then perceived to be more effective than that found outside the group. Online interactions also facilitate construction of a new shared recovery identity which promotes a shift from the illness identity as a primary source of definition and endorses group norms of illness disclosure and treatment engagement. While in the clinical literature, eating disorder identity is seen as problematic and interventions are targeted at challenging an individual’s self-concept, we suggest that interventions could instead harness identity resources to support a transition to a recovery identity.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Social identity and eating disorder recovery [working title]
Publication Title: British Journal of Social Psychology
Creators: McNamara, N. and Parsons, H.
Publisher: Wiley on behalf of The British Psychological Society
Date: 1 December 2016
Volume: 55
Number: 4
ISSN: 0144-6665
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 19 Aug 2016 09:40
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017 03:00
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28331

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