Anorexia nervosa is generally considered as a specific, and well circumscribed psychosomatic entity. The pathogenesis remains enigmatic, in spite of various hypotheses. The last years some learning theory formulations have been formulated on this subject. As elements for a neo-behavioristic explanation of the anorexic syndrome can be suggested : learned ineffectiveness, extreme self-control, emaciation as anxiety reducing response, etc. According to the literature on behaviour therapy of anorexia nervosa, beside systematic desensitization, operant conditioning techniques are the most commonly applied and analyzed treatment methods. Their basic strategy and varied applications are discussed, critically evaluated, and compared with our own clinical experiences. Our behaviour modification program, based on operant conditioning principles, is briefly described. Within a period of 1,5 year, 31 female anorexics were treated on the same ward: subsequently 23 and 8 girls, with two different methods. The preliminary findings are discussed. Behaviour therapy seems very effective for short-term restoration of weight and normal eating habits, but is also limited in modifying, on the longterm, the total complexity of personality in anorexia nervosa. An integration of behaviour therapy with other psychotherapeutic methods, seems the best approach to this syndrome.
How to Cite:
Vandereycken, W. and Pierloot, R., 1977. Een Leertheoretische Benadering Van Anorexia Nervosa. Psychologica Belgica, 17(1), pp.71–85. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.609