Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Emotional regulation through sugar addiction: A phenomenological study
by Van Stone, Carolina A., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2015, 265; 3718811
Abstract (Summary)

Treatment of addictive processes is one of the specialties of clinical psychology. Practitioners hone their skills to relieve the suffering and ill affects of substance use. This dissertation explored sugar use, as an addictive process, through the lens of emotional regulation, addressing the research question: What is the lived experience of emotional regulation through sugar addiction? The study specifically excluded treatment.

Review of literature revealed ways to treat, supplement, or kick the sugar habit, examined sugar addiction qualifiers by comparing them to neural correlates of other drug dependencies, and provided recovering food and sugar addicts’ insights into America’s food supply and the harmful deceptions perpetuated by its food industry. The Food Addiction Institute’s library maintains over 2,700 peer reviewed articles.

The study employed a phenomenological research method to look at six co-participants’ lived experience—idiographically, to determine what characteristics and themes are unique to each co-participant, and nomothetically, to determine what universally characterizes the whole group.

Co-participant entry into the study required meeting the thresholds for the Yale Food Addiction Scale, abbreviated version. Interview transcripts provided a rich data base for analysis. Idiographic essential descriptions were used to create a narrative for each co-participant. The nomothetic aggregate used common denominators to create a universal picture of the whole group.

This study aimed for a greater understanding of the interdependent nature of sugar and emotions. What might a sugar addicted population express that facilitates recovery and emotional regulation? Due to its qualitative approach to data acquisition the research was personal and explored beyond the surface to obtain a unique and individualized story, yet was able to identify a picture common to the whole group.

The lived experience revealed that envy, deprivation, fear of sugar’s control, and lack of support from authority figures contributed to an inability to get enough of comfort foods or to stop overconsumption, and contributed to feelings of guilt, shame, and loss. Co-participants expressed excitement and gratitude that someone was interested in this topic.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bishop, Allen
Commitee: Ghareman, Azarm, Swadener, Susan
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biology, Behavioral psychology, Health sciences, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Emotional regulation, Food consumption demographics, Lived experience, Phenomenology, Psychology food craving, Sugar addiction
Publication Number: 3718811
ISBN: 9781321988291
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