Emotional inhibition, health, gender, and eating disorders: The role of (over) sensitivity to others

Marrie H.J. Bekker*, Sonja T.P. Spoor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Of all mental disorders listed in DSM-IV (APA, 2000), eating disorders stand out as the category with the most unequal sex ratios. Anorexia nervosa occurs almost exclusively in women (more than 90% of the cases are women), and the same holds for bulimia nervosa: at least 90% of the patients are women for both clinical and population samples. Not surprisingly, the majority of explanations of eating disorders explicitly or implicitly refer to this unequal sex ratio. This is done by either emphasizing the importance of stressors that affect women more exclusively or more seriously than men, or by stressing vulnerability factors that more typically characterize women than men. One example concerns the impressive body of studies following from the restrained eating theory that all point to the importance of dieting for women due to the Western ideal of feminine slenderness (e.g., Huon & Brown, 1989; Stice, 1998; Stice, Presnell, & Spangler, 2002). Another illustration concerns the emphasis on low self-esteem that also might be more related to the female than to the male sex (e.g., Silberstein, Striegel-Moore, Timko, & Rodin, 1988).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmotion Regulation
Subtitle of host publicationConceptual and Clinical Issues
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780387299853
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


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