What Does Your Self Portrait Say?

Individuals suffering from eating disorders tend to draw a negative image of themselves

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It can be hard to open up to a stranger, even your own doctor. Some individuals find it easier to express themselves through drawing and writing. Doctors are now able to assess individuals for eating disorders by having them draw a self portrait.

A recent study notes that women suffering from an eating disorder tend have a poor self image. Women with bulimia or anorexia were found to draw an inaccurate portrait of themselves.

These women see themselves as much larger then they really are, where as women without an eating disorders have a more accurate image of themselves.

"If you have negative image of yourself consult with a health care professional."

According to lead author, Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Head of the Graduate School of Creative Art Therapies at the university of Haifa, a self figure drawing assessment can be done to help diagnosis individuals with eating disorders.

It has been hard to assess individuals with eating disorders because they are often ashamed of what they are doing and tend to be in denial. This makes it difficult for doctors to diagnosis and treat these women.

A new concept for assessing individuals for eating disorders is non intrusive. Eating disorders are one of the most difficult diseases to diagnosis and treat.

In depth:

  • Seventy six women participated in this study. Thirty six has been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Twenty had no eating disorder but were overweight. Twenty were a normal weight. All the participants completed a questionnaire screening for eating disorders
  • They were then asked to draw a portraits of themselves. No instructions or rules were implemented when asked to draw themselves
  • Researchers studied their drawings and found differences in four parts of the body.
  • Those with an eating disorder seemed to draw a larger neck and thighs. The often did not include feet in their drawing and drew more predominant lips
  • Anorexic women tended to draw themselves without breasts. Bulimic women did not exclude breasts from their drawings
  • The women's drawings were compared to the questionnaires they completed
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 18, 2011
Last Updated:
April 26, 2011