Young Women’s Experience of Anorexia, Family Dynamics and Triangulation
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© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York. The study explored the experience of triadic family relationships of six young women with a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa alongside a consideration of their attachment strategies. The research methods employed semi-structured individual interviews, a family sculpt and use of an adapted version of the Adolescent Separation Anxiety Test (SAT). This adaptation featured a unique development for this study of photographs depicting triadic family separation and conflict situations. These attempted to offer an integrated view of their experience of anorexia and of family relationships alongside a consideration of the attachment strategies evoked. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to generate themes that captured the young women’s experience, and a modified version of the SAT protocol coding was used to explore attachment strategies. The main themes to emerge from the data were found to be: Relational distance to attachment figures, Barriers to emotional connection, and Perception of parents’ relationship. Attachment strategies were shown to influence perceptions of family relationships and of triadic processes and conflicts. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed alongside limitations of the study and indications for future research.
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