Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment

By Weiss, Fran | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment


Weiss, Fran, American Journal of Psychotherapy


J. KEVIN THOMPSON (ED.): Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 1996, 517 pp., $49.95, ISBN 1-55798-423-0.

An excellent resource for professionals, Body Image is clearly written and to the point. The editor, J. Kevin Thompson, has organized the book to be comprehensive and accessible, and his introduction to each of the three sections clearly previews the scope of the work to be covered.

The first goal of the book is to examine the central role that body image plays in eating and weight-related disorders; the second is to provide a contemporary review of empirically supported assessment and treatment approaches. Section I thoroughly examines body image; Sections II and III, which cover eating disorders and obesity, respectively, review treatment of each disorder and also interweave body-image treatment fox eating disorders and obesity. The treatment options offered for body image, eating disorders, and obesity are clearly stated to be behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition, pharmacological interventions are explored, as well as surgery for the morbidly obese.

According to Thompson, cognitive-behavior and behavior therapy are the preferred treatment options because they have received the most empirical support in the literature. Thompson frankly acknowledges the possible shortcomings of this approach and says, in a disclaimer, that different psychotherapeutic approaches, i.e., feminist and interpersonal, though potentially helpful, might be shortchanged in this volume and would not be reviewed because "they have not been empirically studied with outcome results." This having been said, readers may assume that also missing will be the literature of psychoanalytical, psychodynamic, and family therapy, but the section covering eating disorders does, in fact, recommend long-term psychotherapy.

The "Body Image Disturbance" section, headed up by Leslie J. Heinberg in her chapter "Theories of Body Image Disturbance: Perceptual, Developmental, and Sociocultural Factors," starts out strongly but disappoints because it lacks depth and elaboration on the development of body image. However, interesting points are raised, e.g., the question of cortical deficits. Thompson contributes a strong chapter on measurements and methodologies of assessing body image. He includes a several-page table of the widely used measures for the assessment of the different components of body-image disturbances, complete with authors' names and addresses for contact purposes.

Thomas F. Cash's discussion of treatment raises the question of whether body satisfaction can be achieved without weight loss. Thomas Pruzinski's exploration of cosmetic plastic surgery is a must-read for those involved in the evaluation of candidates for plastic surgery. And Madeline Altabe's review of body-image disturbances among culturally diverse populations reminds us that they are not reserved for western Caucasian populations alone. The section is closed by James Rosen, who helps us understand how to assess patients for body dysmorphic disorder and also discusses treatment.

The "Eating Disorders" section depicts the difficulty in focusing solely on body image in eating disorders. Thus, it is more comprehensive, covering not only assessment and treatment of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder but also the physical, medical, and pharmacological considerations in these diagnostic areas. These chapters also are rich in structured interviews and psychological assessments.

Again, although Thompson tells us the book won't include much in the way of psychotherapy because of the lack of empirical studies, David M.

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