Difficultés socio-affectives dans l’anorexie mentale : impact sur la sévérité du trouble et comparaison avec le syndrome d'Asperger

Abstract : This work concerns the impact and the nature of socio-affective difficulties in Anorexia Nervosa (AN). Interoceptive and introspective difficulties, as apprehended by measures of alexithymia, could be linked to the severity of clinical profiles among AN patients, and have an impact not only on their somatic state but also on their interpersonal functioning.Alongside, alexithymia and social avoidance are deficits that are encountered in disorders in the autistic spectrum. The London Institute of Psychiatry has indeed proposed a model involving shared endophenotypes between these disorders and AN, thus concluding to a phenotype overlap. The lack of flexibility and central coherence among these patients are issues that are being increasingly broached in the literature, and these features do indeed appear common to both pathologies. Socio-affective difficulties are also widely discussed in this respect, but as yet there have been few studies. Our first line of research was the study of the links between alexithymia, clinical factors (such as age at onset, duration of illness, number of relapses, evolution of global state), and social anxiety, taking into account any possible confounders highlighted in the literature (nutritional state, anxious-depressive affects). The second line of research was an exploration of the overlap between disorders in the autism spectrum and AN, by way of a comparison of the socio-affective profiles of AN patients and patients with Asperger's syndrome. To address the first line of research two studies were conducted. The first involved 60 female patients, and the second included 213 male and female patients. The patients in both of these studies were hospitalised for an episode of anorexia in units specialised in the care of eating disorders. The first study explored a homogenous population of anorexic adolescent girls with an illness duration of three years or more, all hospitalised in the same facility in Paris. Participation in the second study was proposed to all patents aged between 13 and 65 years hospitalised for an episode of anorexia across 11 specialised units in France. For both studies the scores used were derived from psychometric measures of alexithymia (TAS-20 or BVAQ), eating disorder symptoms (EDI or EDE-Q and EAT), and anxious-depressive affects (SCL-90 or HAD). Global state, anxiety and social avoidance were assessed in the course of semi-structured interviews (GOAS and LSAS respectively). From these studies it emerged that alexithymia appears to have an aggravating role, not only on eating symptoms, but also on social avoidance. The impact of alexithymia extends beyond that of the nutritional state and dysphoric affects. Alexithymic functioning also appears to have a negative impact on the evolution of clinical state among individuals having required hospitalisation in a unit specialised in AN. To explore the second line of research we performed a comparative psychometric study on 15 individuals presenting Asperger's syndrome, 15 anorexic patients, and two control groups matched to the two clinical groups. Semi-structured interviews were used to confirm the diagnoses of Asperger's Syndrome and AN (ADOS and MINI). The participants completed the scales for alexithymia (BVAQ), autistic traits (AQ), empathy (IRI,EQ), depression (BDI) and eating symptoms (EAT). This comparative study showed that AN subjects exhibited similarities with Asperger subjects for alexithymia and certain autistic traits, in particular cognitive. In contrast, important differences were observed for social skills, with anorexics exhibiting more empathy and greater concern for others that the patients with a disorder in the autism spectrum. From a clinical point of view in the field of the care of AN, this research shows the value of developing new approaches centred on the recognition of emotional states and the improvement of social skills. (...)
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Annaïg Courty. Difficultés socio-affectives dans l’anorexie mentale : impact sur la sévérité du trouble et comparaison avec le syndrome d'Asperger. Psychologie. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013PA05H128⟩. ⟨tel-00961271⟩

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