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This study aimed to identify differences in the personal themes in negative self or core beliefs that might be characteristic of high levels of eating disorder symptoms when compared to high levels of depressive symptoms in those with an eating disorder and/or depression. Differences between putative diagnostic subgroups were also examined. One hundred and ninety-three participants completed self-report measures of negative self-beliefs, eating, and depressive symptoms. Putative diagnostic subgroups were also identified, including an eating disorder group that also had high levels of depressive symptomatology and in most cases a diagnosis of depression. Six themes descriptive of the self corresponding to 6 robust factors were identified and provisionally labeled isolated, repelled by self, self-dislike, lacking in warmth, childlike, and highly organized. Multiple regression analyses indicated that, in the whole sample, eating disorder symptoms were uniquely predicted by subscales reflective of repelled by self and lacking in warmth, though depressive symptoms were uniquely predicted by subscales measuring isolation and self-dislike. Between-group analyses indicated that high scores on isolation, self-dislike, and lacking in warmth were typical of both eating-disordered and depressed-only diagnostic groups when compared to the control group, though only the eating-isordered group (also high in depressive symptoms and "diagnosis" of depression) also had high scores on repelled by self. The findings indicate that eating disorder and depressive symptoms are associated with some potentially important differences in self-beliefs. Putative diagnostic subgroups may also differ in these beliefs. The findings further indicate that psychometrically sound themes exist in the core or negative self-beliefs associated with eating disorder and depressive symptoms. Implications of the findings for cognitive therapy with eating disorders and depression are briefly considered, and the limitations and implications of the diagnostic subgroups identified here are discussed. © 2009 Springer Publishing Company.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy

Publication Date





147 - 159