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  • Understanding your own and other's minds: the relationship to eating disorder related symptoms.

    26 August 2018

    A study using a cross-sectional survey design examined whether eating disorder (ED) related symptoms are associated with understanding one's own and others' minds. A non-clinical sample of 145 women completed self-report questionnaires and recorded their emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses to descriptions of scenarios (vignettes). Responses to scenarios were made from the perspective of self, an attachment figure and a same sex acquaintance. Data were analysed using multiple regression statistics with ED related symptoms as the dependent variable. High levels of ED related symptoms were associated with 'concretised' understanding of own emotions (i.e. a greater number of food related responses), but sophisticated understanding of same sex acquaintance's emotions. They were associated with fewer positive thoughts for self, fewer negative emotions about their own behaviour, and more food responses for same sex acquaintance's behaviour. Similarities and differences were observed in the different perspectives. Limitations are discussed. Implications for further research related to this topic and relevant to EDs are briefly summarised.

  • The experience of 'feeling fat' in women with anorexia nervosa, dieting and non-dieting women: an exploratory study.

    26 August 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To provide a preliminary, systematic exploration of some features associated with the experience of 'feeling fat'. METHOD: Women with anorexia nervosa (N = 16), women who were dieting (N = 15) and non-dieting women (N = 17) took part in a semi-structured interview. RESULTS: Feeling fat was common in all three groups of women. It was associated with distress, negative emotions, internal and external body sensations, images in a range of modalities, negative self beliefs and a first memory of feeling fat. Differences specifically characteristic of those with anorexia nervosa were identified, including feeling fatter, greater associated distress, more negative emotions, greater 'emotional' belief in cognitions, a richer experience, an earlier first memory, greater strength of negative self beliefs and a link to restricting behaviour. Some qualitative data are reported. CONCLUSIONS: The experience of feeling fat can be 'unpacked' in a way that may be useful in cognitive therapy for those with anorexia nervosa.

  • Possible risk factors in the development of eating disorders in overweight pre-adolescent girls.

    26 August 2018

    OBJECTIVES: To investigate concerns about weight, shape and eating, dietary restraint, self-esteem and symptoms of depression in overweight girls. To investigate the relationship between concerns and self-esteem and depressive symptoms in this group. METHOD: Eighteen overweight girls and 18 average-weight girls completed the child version of the Eating Disorders Examination, the Harter Self-Perception Profile and the Short Moods and Feelings Questionnaire. RESULTS: Overweight girls had more concerns about weight, shape and eating and attempted dietary restraint more often. They had more negative self-esteem related to their athletic competence, physical appearance and global self-worth and more symptoms of depression. There was an association between concerns and self-esteem based on physical appearance in the overweight group. CONCLUSION: Overweight girls show some of the psychological features associated with the development of eating disorders, including a link between concerns and self-esteem based on physical appearance. This may help to explain why childhood obesity increases the risk of a later eating disorder.

  • Core beliefs and underlying assumptions in bulimia nervosa and depression.

    26 August 2018

    In a pilot study, core beliefs and underlying assumptions were investigated in patients with bulimia nervosa, patients with depression and female controls, using a new self-report measure. The patients with bulimia nervosa did not differ from the patients with depression in negative self beliefs but they did differ in assumptions concerned with weight, shape and eating. Both groups of patients also differed from the female controls, with the exception of one comparison including the depressed patients. The findings support recent developments in cognitive theories of eating disorders. Treatment implications are briefly discussed.

  • Applying a cognitive model to binge eating in a female community sample.

    26 August 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Little is known about a potential cognitive model for binge eating, although cognitive behavioural techniques have been proposed as appropriate models of intervention. This study initiated the development of a cognitive model by applying an established cognitive model for bulimia nervosa. METHOD: A community sample of women was recruited via the internet and participants completed measures of eating disorder thoughts, negative self-beliefs, attachment, mood and binge eating severity. RESULTS: Eating disorder thoughts and negative self-beliefs were applicable to women in the community who binge eat. Attachment relationships characterised by decreased emotional warmth and increased overprotection, were correlated with binge eating in women and this relationship was mediated by eating disorder thoughts and negative self-beliefs. DISCUSSION: The cognitive model of bulimia was applicable to some extent to women in the community who binge eat. Attachment may also be related to binge eating and this relationship may be mediated by cognition.

  • Emotional processing in women with anorexia nervosa and in healthy volunteers.

    26 August 2018

    Emotional processing was investigated in patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) and in healthy volunteers (HVs) using self report questionnaires and information processing tasks. Compared to the HVs, patients with AN had lower levels of self reported emotional awareness and expression. They also responded more slowly to, correctly identified fewer emotions and misclassified more emotions in a facial recognition task, and responded more slowly to, and recalled fewer, self-referent emotion words. There were no key differences between the two groups on non-emotional control tasks, suggesting that their deficits are specific to emotional information and not a general feature of the illness. Analysis indicated that some, but not all, of the differences found remained when depressive symptoms were taken into account. Exploratory analysis of sub-groups (medicated vs. unmedicated patients) indicated that those who were on medication may perform very differently from those who were not on medication, including when level of depression is controlled, although it is important to emphasise that these findings are preliminary. The implications of a deficit in emotional processing in those with AN, including discussion of the specific differences found between medicated and unmedicated, are discussed in relation to previous findings in the area. A number of implications for future research, theory and therapy with those with AN are discussed.

  • Core beliefs and the presence or absence of eating disorder symptoms and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls.

    26 August 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Core beliefs specific to eating disorder and depressive symptoms were investigated in four groups of adolescent girls well matched on these symptoms. METHOD: A total of 272 girls were included and two measures of core beliefs were compared. The measures were the Young Schema Questionnaire (YSQ) and the Negative Self-Beliefs subscale of the Eating Disorder Belief Questionnaire (EDBQ). RESULTS: One-way analyses of variance found that both measures distinguished a "healthy" group and a group high on depressed symptoms, but not one high on eating disorder symptoms. Both measures also distinguished the unhealthy group from a high eating disorder symptom group, but only the EDBQ subscale distinguished this group from the group high on depressive symptoms. Discriminant function analysis indicated that both measures identified beliefs specific to depression but only the EDBQ subscale was able to identify beliefs specific to eating disorder symptoms. These beliefs were I'm stupid and I'm ugly. DISCUSSION: In an analogue population at least, the EDBQ negative self-beliefs subscale may be a more sensitive measure of eating disorder related core beliefs than the YSQ. The practical difficulties of replicating the current study in a clinical population are discussed, and a next step is proposed for future research on this topic.

  • Spontaneously occurring images and early memories in people with body dysmorphic disorder.

    26 August 2018

    A semi-structured interview assessing the presence and characteristics of spontaneous appearance-related images was designed and administered. A total of 18 patients with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and 18 normal controls took part. The BDD patients were found to have spontaneously occurring appearance-related images that were significantly more negative, recurrent, and viewed from an observer perspective than control participants. These images were more vivid and detailed and typically involved visual and organic (internal body) sensations. The study also found that BDD images were linked to early stressful memories, and that images were more likely than verbal thoughts to be linked to these memories. Implications for theory and clinical practice are discussed.

  • Bias in interpretation of ambiguous scenarios in eating disorders.

    26 August 2018

    Eating disorders appear to be associated with biased information processing, particularly in judgments involving the self. This study investigated three possible biases. Patients with anorexia nervosa, patients with bulimia nervosa and female controls completed questionnaires designed to assess interpretation of ambiguous scenarios with either a negative or positive outcome. When events had a negative outcome the patients responded spontaneously to open-ended questions with a weight and shape interpretation. Later, in a forced-choice format, they selected the weight and shape interpretation in preference to interpretations not connected to weight and shape. In both open-ended and forced-choice format this bias was specific to judgments involving the self. When events had a positive outcome the bias was reversed and, in the two formats, it was found only in judgments involving others. In both cases, i.e. for negative self-referent events and for positive other-referent events, patients predicted that weight and shape explanations were more likely. Both groups of patients estimated that negative outcomes involving the self would be more costly. The patients with bulimia nervosa also estimated that positive outcomes involving the self would be more beneficial. Theoretical explanations and clinical implications are discussed.

  • Investigating the effectiveness of brief cognitive reappraisal training to reduce fear in adolescents.

    26 August 2018

    As adolescent anxiety is common and costly, identifying effective strategies to reduce symptoms is a priority. This study tested whether adolescents could learn to use cognitive reappraisal strategies to attenuate fear during extinction learning. Fifty-seven participants (12-15 years) viewed images of two neutral faces, one which was paired with a fearful expression and shrieking scream (conditioned threat stimulus) and the other that was never paired with the aversive outcome (conditioned safety stimulus) during fear acquisition. Before extinction, participants either received cognitive appraisal training, which explored alternative, benign meanings associated with the scream or a control activity. Self-reported fear ratings in the cognitive reappraisal group were significantly lower to both the conditioned threat and safety stimuli after extinction than the control group. These findings did not characterise fear-potentiated startle data. Potential reasons for the lack of consistency between measures are considered.

  • A neural basis of restrictive eating in Anorexia Nervosa

    29 November 2016

    Dr Jessica Scaife compares neural responses to high vs low calorie food pictures in restrictive Anorexia Nervosa.

  • Autoimmune causes of schizophrenia

    1 May 2013

    A proportion of patients with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia may have a treatable autoimmune condition underlying their symptoms. We have shown, for the first time that patients with a first episode of psychosis had antibodies against the NMDA receptor or Voltage Gated Potassium Channel.

  • Five new academic psychiatric training posts (ACFs) funded by National Institute of Health Research

    6 February 2014

    The Oxford NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) will fund 2 new academic clinical fellows (ACF) in core psychiatry and 1 new ACF run-through to child and adolescent psychiatry this year. This is in addition to 1 ACF in psychiatry funded by NIHR, and a further extra ACF post in child and adolescent psychiatry won in last year's national competition.

  • Brain injury survivors 3x more likely to die prematurely

    16 January 2014

    People who survive a traumatic brain injury are three times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, often from suicide or fatal injuries, according to a study led by Dr Seena Fazel, Wellcome Trust senior research fellow in Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry. The study of 41 years' worth of Swedish medical records, published in JAMA Psychiatry, also found that TBI survivors were twice as likely to kill themselves (and 2.6 times as likely to die generally) before the age of 56 as unaffected siblings, who were included in the study to control for genetic factors and early upbringing. [The Guardian online, 16/01/2014, Haroon Siddique]

  • "Predicting violence in mentally disordered offenders needs considerable caution" says our Seena Fazel

    2 October 2013

    "Assessment tools used to predict how likely a psychopathic prisoner is to re-offend if freed from jail are "utterly useless" and parole boards might just as well flip a coin when deciding such risks, psychiatrists said on Tuesday. A Queen Mary University of London study found risk score tools are only around 46 percent accurate on how likely psychopathic convicts are to kill, rape or assault again. Seena Fazel, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Britain's University of Oxford, said the reliability of the tests' predictive ability was so low that it might be best not to use them at all - and warned that at the very least, their results should only be noted by parole boards, rather than acted upon. "If you're going to use these instruments, be aware of their strengths and limitations," he said." (Reuters, 01/10/2013, Kate Kelland)

  • Oxford Medical School tops Times Higher Education World University Rankings for Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health 2013-14

    2 October 2013

    "The 2013-2014 Times Higher Education World University Rankings' Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health table judges world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The ranking of the world's top 100 universities for clinical and health subjects employs 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments."

  • Daniel Freeman on paranoia: 'At its heart is a mistaken idea of current threat'

    8 August 2016

    Professor Freeman writes for the Guardian on the paranoia spectrum and how founded perception of threat can slip into misreading intentions and excessive mistrust.

  • Unique research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    11 October 2018

    Professor Morten Kringelbach and army doctor Alexander Fjaeldstad give lectures about PTSD, psychological trauma and head injuries at the Royal Institution.

  • The Guardian: 'NHS clinical trials are the envy of the world'

    9 July 2018

    The Guardian highlights the PREVENT study with which Ivan Koychev, clinical lecturer in old age psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, is involved.

  • Blog: 'Taking part in True Colours'

    12 September 2017

    Michael Spiers shares his personal experience of bipolar and taking part in the Bipolar Disorder Research Network (BDRN) mood monitoring system True Colours, developed at the University of Oxford's Department of Psychiatry.

  • Linking dopamine and salience in reward learning

    2 October 2015

    Supervisors: Liz Tunbridge and Mark Walton (Department of Experimental Psychology)

  • Visiting summer student

    25 July 2018

    We welcome Andrea Enriquez, a visiting summer student from the States

  • OPT Study

    1 November 2012


    1 November 2012

    Supporting Parents Of Children with Cleft Lip (SPOCCL) is a research study looking at how best to provide extra support to families who have a baby with a cleft lip in the first few months.

  • Graduate Students

    1 November 2012

    We welcome graduate students from a wide range of disciplines including medicine, neuroscience and psychology. The resources of the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford centre for Human Brain Activity and the University of Oxford provide a wide-range of training opportunities.

  • Dr Esther Becker

    15 April 2013

    Molecular mechanisms underlying neuron development and autism

  • Professor Angela Vincent

    15 April 2013

    Maternal immunity in neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism

  • Miss Hannah Buxton

    15 April 2013

    Currently studying for a D.Phil under the supervision of Professor Dorothy Bishop.

  • Dr Anne Stewart

    15 April 2013

    Research of patient and carer's experience of ASD

  • Dr Diane Newbury

    15 April 2013

    Genetic contributions to risk of neurodevelopmental disorders with a focus upon language impairment