Many youngsters being treated for obesity also have psychological problems which can be caused by dysfunctional schemas and maladaptive coping styles. These dysfunctional schemas and maladaptive coping styles are unhelpful ways of looking at the world and dealing with problems and can develop when basic childhood needs, such as a secure attachment to others and the freedom to express emotions, are not met. Psychologists have come up with 18 different categories of maladaptive schema and researchers in Belgium compared teenagers being treated for obesity with normal-weight children to see how they differed in terms of their schemas (thought processes). The researchers found that, overall, the obese teenagers had more dysfunctional schemas than the normal weight ones. The obese children scored significantly higher for the Emotional Deprivation, Social Isolation/Alienation, Defectiveness/Shame, Failure to Achieve, Dependence/Incompetence and Subjugation schemas.
Vlieberghe, Leen Van and Braet, Caroline - Dysfunctional schemas and psychopathology in referred obese adolescents Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy September-October 2007, 14, 342-351