Positive psychology and subclinical eating disorders in South Africa : a literature review
Kirsten, Doret Karen
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Rapid escalation of Subclinical Eating Disorders (SED) in the form of high levels of body–dissatisfaction (BD) and drive for thinness (DT) globally and locally, and the at–risk status of university females are underscored by recent studies. As yet there exists no South African program tailored to the needs of afflicted female students and which includes a risk–protective focus grounded in Positive Psychology theory. In this chapter a theoretical overview on the nature and definition of SED, its prevalence and the rationale for a risk–protective focus grounded in Positive Psychology theory are provided. Thereafter three preliminary South African studies, namely two correlation studies (De Pãz Fransisco, 2007; Kirsten, Du Plessis & Swanepoel, 2010) and the Weight Over–concern and Well–being program of Kirsten, Du Plessis and Du Toit (2007) are discussed. Findings of these preliminary studies highlight the promise of utilizing Positive Psychology theoretical approaches to practically significantly reduce risk factors and promote protective factors. As such, Well–being therapy (Fava & Ruini, 2003) that promotes the six dimensions of psychological well–being (Ryff & Keyes, 1995), and Self–Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) that can promote true self–esteem in the form of self–determination and mindfulness (Kabat–Zinn, 1998), with its inherent self–compassion, kindness and self–forgiving manner, show promise. More in–depth studies with larger samples are however needed.
- Humanities