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The other side of an eating disorder: a thematic analysis of recovery stories shared on Instagram

Benedetti, Valentina (2018) The other side of an eating disorder: a thematic analysis of recovery stories shared on Instagram. University of West London. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The photo and video sharing platform Instagram has been widely utilised for recovery purposes by individuals affected by an eating disorder. Since recovery is a critical yet poorly comprehended subject, the present qualitative study employed Thematic Analysis to examine the visual and textual content of 956 posts related to eating disorder recovery, published on Instagram by using the hashtags #eatingdisorderrecovery; #bulimarecovery; #anorexiarecovery; #edwarrior; #EDrecoveryfamily. The analysis of visual material generated six popular photo categories, while the assessment of captions revealed four broad themes: Separating the Self from the disorder, Shaping a New Identity, The Emotional side of recovery and Being part of a Family of Warriors. Despite the process mainly involves self-reflection and identity exploration, recovery on Instagram seems to be strongly subjected to stereotypical western views but also benefit from positive social interactions. Therapeutic measures could be integrated by online–based schemes to maximise treatment efficacy and reduce chances of future relapse.

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