A sudden spate of new research on emotions in anorexia nervosa has definitely caught my interest, as emotions are not something that come easy for me. It's not just a feel your feelings sort of thing, but also a "I know I'm pissed and anxious, so now what" kind of thing. I feel emotions and I feel them hard and deep. I can usually identify them, but regulating them and living with them isn't one of my strong points.
"Patients with AN endorsed levels of emotion avoidance that were comparable to or higher than other psychiatric populations and exceeded community controls...[These] findings confirm that emotion avoidance is present in patients with AN and provide initial support for the idea that anorexic symptoms function, in part, to help individuals avoid aversive emotional states."
Which makes a lot of sense. Anxiety is quite possibly one of the biggest triggers I have, and not eating makes me feel less anxious. And the strong relationship between anxiety and eating disorders hasn't gone unnoticed. Walt Kaye's group out at UCSD found this to be true experimentally.
"Compared to the [healthy volunteers], patients with AN had lower levels of self reported emotional awareness and expression. They also responded more slowly to, correctly identified fewer emotions and misclassified more emotions in a facial recognition task, and responded more slowly to, and recalled fewer, self-referent emotion words."
"Patients with AN-R showed increased fear when confronted with stimuli containing anger, whereas patients with BN showed a tendency towards decreased fear...The finding of increased fear when exposed to the emotion of anger might be attributed to introversion and conflict avoidance of anorectic patients."
Which I have again found to be true in my personal experiences. Anger, whether mine or anyone e lse's, tends to terrify me. I typically avoid conflict, but my mom has also described me as "scrappy" at times, so it's not a 100% thing. I'll charge in if no other alternative is open, or if I'm feeling quite peeved, but usually, I just stay in the background. Some of this hanging back is conflict avoidance, and some of it is my innate introversion.