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Recent research: eating disorders & PTSD, relationships & libido, and IBS

Holzer, S. R., S. Uppala, et al. (2008). "Mediational significance of PTSD in the relationship of sexual trauma and eating disorders." Child Abuse Negl 32(5): 561-6.  [PubMed]  Mediational analysis suggests that sexual trauma often links to subsequent eating disorder via posttraumatic stress symptoms - particularly physiological arousal and avoidance.  Therapeutically this suggests it may be worth targetting PTSD symptoms (as well as more direct work on eating) when working with someone suffering from an eating disorder and a history of trauma.
Impett, E. A., A. Strachman, et al. (2008). "Maintaining sexual desire in intimate relationships: the importance of approach goals." J Pers Soc Psychol 94(5): 808-23. [PubMed]  It's common for sexual desire in a couple relationship to decrease over time - possibly especially for women.  However decreased sexual desire is often also associated with decreased relationship satisfaction.  In a series of three interesting studies, the authors showed that approach relationship goals (e.g. "I will be trying to deepen my relationship with my romantic partner", "I will be trying to move towards growth and development in my romantic relationship") and an increased level of positive relationship experiences in a day - above a couple's usual level (for example being complimented, told one is loved, one's partner making one laugh, one's partner doing something special for you, doing fun things together, feeling understood & appreciated, feeling wanted, etc) are associated with increased sexual desire and satisfaction, particularly for women.  Approach sexual goals seem particularly important mediators of these benefits e.g. positive answers to personal sexual goals like I have sex "to pursue my own sexual pleasure" & "to feel good about myself" as well as positive answers to intimacy sexual goals like I have sex "to please my partner" "to promote intimacy in my relationship" & "to express love for my partner."  Again these orientations seem particularly helpful in maintaining sexual desire & satisfaction for women - though very relevant for both genders.
Kaptchuk, T. J., J. M. Kelley, et al. (2008). "Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome." BMJ 336(7651): 999-1003.  [Abstract/Full Text]  In this fascinating 3 week placebo acupuncture study, simple assessment & observation of symptoms was associated with 28% of patients developing "adequate" symptom relief.  This proportion increased to 44% in those who were additionally treated with a placebo acupuncture procedure.  When the placebo acupuncture was accompanied as well by a positive therapeutic relationship involving warmth, attention and confidence, the proportion of patients achieving "adequate" symptom relief increased further to 62%.


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