Using an Emotion Regulation Framework to Advance Conceptualization of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
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Relative to other areas of psychopathology, little is known about body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) and body-focused repetitive behavior disorders (BFRBDs). Given that emotion regulation theories have advanced the conceptualization and treatment of other psychiatric disorders, the purpose of the current study was to utilize an emotion regulation framework to advance the conceptualization of BFRBs and BFRBDs. Specifically, the current study examined whether emotion regulation deficits that are hypothesized to underlie emotion dysregulation (i.e., alexithymia, maladaptive emotional reactivity, experiential avoidance, and ineffectual response inhibition) are relevant to BFRB status and/or severity. Participants were invited to enroll in the current study based on their responses to an online screening survey. Of the 2,722 Texas A&M University undergraduate students who completed the screening survey, 108 were officially enrolled as participants. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, it was determined that 32 of these participants were unaffected by BFRBs, 53 had subclinical BFRBs, and 23 had BFRBDs. Results of the current study suggest that emotion regulation deficits are relevant to both BFRB severity and BFRBD status. Specifically, results of the current study indicated that BFRBD-affected individuals demonstrated higher levels of maladaptive emotional reactivity, experiential avoidance, and ineffectual response inhibition when distressed than did individuals without BFRBs and individuals with subclinical BFRBs. Results also indicated that, individually, experiential avoidance and response inhibition abilities, when distressed, significantly predicted BFRB severity. Finally, results demonstrated that a linear combination of alexithymia, maladaptive emotional reactivity, experiential avoidance, and ineffectual response inhibition differentiated between individuals without BFRBs, individuals with subclinical BFRBs, and individuals with BFRBDs. Consistent with previous research, findings from the current study suggest that emotion dysregulation contributes to rigid BFRB implementation by BFRBD-affected persons. Future research should continue to explore emotion dysregulation in BFRBDs and examine how this dysregulation compares to the emotion dysregulation characteristic of other psychiatric disorders.
SubjectBody-focused repetitive behaviors
body-focused repetitive behaviors disorders
maladaptive emotion regulation
emotion regulation deficits
Alexander, Jennifer Rose-Lee (2016). Using an Emotion Regulation Framework to Advance Conceptualization of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from