Navigation Links
Research uncovers a secret society connecting through the Internet
Date:2/22/2011

It can be a helpless and heartbreaking situation for families as they try to confront a family member with an eating disorder. What they may not know is that there's a society on the Internet that is dedicated to thwarting any recovery from this dangerous and possibly fatal behavior.

University of Cincinnati communication researchers are reporting on a new type of social support group as social networks grow on the Web. This emerging Online Negative Enabling Support Group (ONESG) surrounding the pro-anorexia movement is reported in the current issue of the journal, New Media & Society.

Members of this society embrace anorexia as a choice rather than acknowledging it as an illness. The ONESG pro-anorexia movement reflects four themes and uses several communication strategies to encourage anorexics to embrace their harmful and dangerous impulses, writes lead author Stephen M. Haas, a UC associate professor of communication. The themes are:

  • Staying "true" to the anorexia movement Forums and blogs invite members to discuss eating, binging and exercising, an "online confessional" of sorts where members can confess their guilt if they feel they have eaten too much or have not exercised enough to stay inline with the movement.
  • Promoting self-loathing strategies Websites encourage communications that not only involving loathing of the physical body, but also of one's inner being in confessing feelings of worthlessness and weakness. These negative rants are embraced by other visitors a communication technique the authors say is unique to this community. Messages are accepted and not contradicted, building a shared identity in acknowledging each others' failures.
  • Pro-anorexia advising The two most common forms of advice involve dieting and dealing with confrontations from non-anorexics, such as family members who try to encourage healthy eating.
  • Pro-anorexia encouragement The fourth communication theme uncovered in these social networks involves encouragement. This can involve affectionate messages that foster group intimacy, offer tips and techniques to encourage anorexic behavior, and form a barrier against the disapproval of non-anorexic "outsiders."

In ONESG communications, there was a common ambivalence between self-loathing and self-encouragement. "Embracing the ambivalence of self-loathing and self-encouragement is an important strategy because it illustrates the inner turmoil that resides within pro-anorexia participants," the authors write. "They cling relentlessly to the idea that achieving a certain level of thinness will somehow remedy their feelings of worthlessness and undesirability; however, the means by which they attain this sense of value and belonging is stigmatized and deemed undesirable."

The researchers say this secret social network is strengthened by the anonymity of the Internet, which allows the exchange of extreme views. Interactions co-construct potentially dangerous, negative behaviors in a positive way that allows new, positive identities to be created. Affectionate messages create a bonding experience.

The authors write that as new social media emerges, it will be even more important to understand their role and impact on ONESGs. They add that understanding these communication strategies may also serve as a useful tool to break down obstacles to life-saving therapy.

"By gaining deeper insight, we can potentially increase our efforts to help those whose online interactions revolve around 'communicating thin,'" the authors write.

The researchers gathered their data by exploring general social networking sites and pro-anorexia specific websites that allowed public access. The websites and blogs were researched over a period dating from October 2006 to May 2007. The collected data was believed to be primarily from Caucasian women between the ages of 13 and 26.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dawn Fuller
dawn.fuller@uc.edu
513-556-1823
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. $1.9 million NIH grant supports research in the most common soft tissue tumor in children
2. How we manage water resources has a direct impact on our health, says Canada Research Chair
3. Cost-effectiveness research needs to be considered in developing new medical technology
4. Saint Louis U scientists partner on malaria research
5. Mayo Clinic researchers confirm value of therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest
6. Mayo researchers, Rochester educators, students to present at science conference
7. Promise of genomics research needs a realistic view
8. Researchers work at the frontiers of islet cell transplantation
9. Brain Appears to Be a Task Machine, Researchers Say
10. Research Sheds Light on Gene Linked to Preeclampsia
11. Researchers develop outline that may help weigh benefits of new imaging technologies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 29, 2017 , ... Wells Pharmacy ... attending prescribers at the upcoming World Congress, in Hollywood Florida April 6-8, 2017. ... recognized as the visionary leader in the training of physicians, scientists, and members ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 29, 2017 , ... ... insight into the challenges employers face in trying to balance both short-term and ... benefits programs? Adding to the growing complexity, companies are finding that the ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 29, ... ... Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA) is growing as it continues developing an ANSI-approved, consensus-based ... industry. The organization, which plans to publish the first ANSI-approved GMP standard ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 29, 2017 , ... Curio Wellness , a ... the finalization of the company’s executive management team with prominent executives from both inside ... Curio Wellness’ Chief Operating Officer, Ted Dumbauld , who has more than twenty ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... ... March 29, 2017 , ... The assembly of synthetic DNA ... many repetitive steps and often scientists require many different versions of DNA. Therefore, ... results in a lower error rate and cost saving for reagents and consumables. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... 2017  Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, a global pharmaceutical company, ... investigational fixed-dose combination of mometasone furoate (25 mcg) ... a nasal spray being studied for the treatment ... a recently completed Phase 3 trial assessing the ... versus mometasone, olopatadine or placebo. "We ...
(Date:3/29/2017)...  Maxor National Pharmacy Services, LLC ("Maxor"), a leading ... Leah Bailey as General Counsel.  Bailey will serve ... With more than 13 years of experience ... on health care, Bailey joins the Maxor team coming ... advised the PBM, Specialty, and Mail Order business areas ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... , March 29, 2017 Varian Medical Systems ... report results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2017 ... 2017.  The news release will be followed by a teleconference ... news release and a link to the conference call webcast ... .  To access the teleconference call and replay: ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: