Early maladaptive schemas in overweight and obesity: A schema mode model

Barbara Basile, Katia Tenore, Francesco Mancini (2019): Early maladaptive schemas in overweight and obesity: A schema mode model. In: Heliyon, 5 , 2019.


Obesity is a growing burden in our societies and, although different kinds of treatments are effective in the short time, weight gain often reoccurs in the longer period. One possible explanation might rely on the little comprehension of obese maladaptive schemas, as developed from early life experiences, which might interfere with treatment enduring efficacy. The aim of this study was to investigate early maladaptive schemas, their associated current schema-modes and dysfunctional coping strategies in overweight and obese individuals (N ¼ 48). Results showed that overweight and obese subjects reported more severe insufficient self-control, abandonment, dependence and subjugation schemas, and actual schema-modes (i.e., impulsive and vulnerable child, detached protector), compared against normal-weight controls (N ¼ 37). As well, the former displayed higher dysfunctional eating habits (i.e., bingeing and bulimic symptoms) and more emotional-avoidant coping strategies. Above all schemas, insufficient self-control predicted higher BMI, binge frequency and bulimic symptoms' severity. Furthermore, avoidant coping mediated between specific maladaptive schemas and frequency of bingeing and bulimic symptoms. Our findings illustrate that overweight and obese display more dysfunctional early maladaptive schemas and schema-modes, compared against normal-weight individuals, exhibiting more emotion-avoidant strategies such as over-eating and bingeing, which might stand for a detached self-soother coping mode. The insufficient self-control schema develops from a lack in self-discipline and an inability to tolerate frustration and might be embodied by the impulsive child mode. A deeper comprehension of schemas and modes, as addressed within the Schema Therapy model, might help to understand dysfunctional personality features that might interfere with the long-lasting efficacy of treatment interventions in obesity