Lucia W. – BASIS Scottsdale

Project Abstract

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and potentially deadly eating disorder defined as a severe restriction of caloric intake in order to achieve an extremely low weight. For a sense of belonging and support, people suffering from anorexia turn to websites that advocate for anorexia as an acceptable lifestyle. In contrast to pro-anorexia content, pro-recovery content provides those suffering from anorexia with support to overcome their eating disorders. Thus, these two opposing online communities function as a representation of those who are in the throes of anorexia and those who are overcoming anorexia. However, it is unclear how the language of these users reflects the features of someone who is suffering versus someone who is in recovery. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to analyze pro-anorexia and pro-recovery pages on Tumblr in order to discover behavioral markers, which provide insight into the thought process of a patient with anorexia in the different stages of recovery. The research used a text analysis program, LIWC, to analyze the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and linguistic style attributes of microblogs on Tumblr categorized as either pro-anorexia or pro-recovery. Such an analysis will reveal distinctive characteristics for both communities that could potentially be used as markers for the treatment of the mental disorder. Ultimately, the research is important for facilitating healthy recovery for people suffering from anorexia.

A Linguistic Analysis of Virtual Anorexia