Los Angeles / Orange County Libraries

Diagnosing Eating Disorders with a Drawing Test

A new study appearing in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy  finds that women suffering or prone to developing eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can be diagnosed with a simple and non-intrusive self-figure drawing assessment.  Researchers were able to differentiate between the self-portraits of women with eating disorders and those without on four aspects:

The neck: women suffering from anorexia or bulimia tended to draw a larger neck, a disconnected neck or no neck at all;

The mouth: this feature was more emphasized in drawings by women suffering from anorexia or bulimia;

The thighs: women with eating disorders drew wider thighs than the other groups in the study;

The feet: women with eating disorders tended to draw pictures without feet or with disconnected feet.

The study also revealed that woman with anorexia tended to omit breasts from their drawings, drew less defined body lines and smaller figures relative to the page size.

Women with eating disorders often hide it from their therapists.  This may be a non-intrusive and non-verbal tool to diagnose the problem.

Read about the study here.

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