TCNJ Magazine - Winter 2017

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8 WINTER 2017 Can rehashing angry thoughts trigger binge eating? This psych major went to Yale to explore that question. MATT FURMAN. FACING PAGE: JENNIFER PICCOLO Way to go Yale gave Wang a spot on a team and grant money last summer to pursue her own research interests. earned her a spot on Yale's research team last summer, grant funding, and the opportunity to study the effects of rumination on binge eating disorder and obesity. What she found only strengthened her theory. First, rumination led patients to internalize stigmas surrounding obesity, which researchers know contributes to poorer mental and physical health. Plus, experts now believe that a central component of eating disorder psychopathology is the overvaluation of shape and weight, or placing an overwhelming emphasis on physical attributes. Wang found that rumination actually influenced eating disorders above and beyond the effects of overvaluation. She submitted her preliminary findings to European Eating Disorders Review, and the paper — with her as first author — has been accepted. She's also applied to doctoral programs in clinical psychology to further her work. Ultimately, Wang hopes her research can help patients like the woman she met as an intern. "These findings can have signi- ficant implications for clinicians in the field," she says, "since we now know how important it can be to reduce rumination among eating disorder patients." —Melissa Kvidahl '07 S hirley Wang '17 was out for a walk with a woman being treated for an eating disorder when the latter shared that she was addressing her deep-seated anger with her therapist. "Eating disorders are so often tied to depression," says Wang, who at the time was a clinical intern at the Center for Eating Disorders Care in Plainsboro, New Jersey. "Her struggle was really different than that. She felt angry a lot, towards herself and others." But when Wang looked into the literature, she found nothing on the relationship between eating disorders and angry rumination — the mental rehashing of problems that keeps anger alive. So she put it at the center of her honors thesis. Her research, using TCNJ students as subjects, found that such a link does exist. Just like that, the door was opened. "I knew I wanted to expand my research into the patient popula- tion next," says Wang, who had chosen a target group. "I knew from reading through literature that binge eating was the most prevalent eating disorder." Wang took her thesis findings to researchers at Yale University's Program for Obesity, Weight, and Eating Research. Her new angle Eating like mad

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