Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Michael Spezio

Reader 2

Thomas Borowski

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2020 Marika A Morelan


Eating disorders are an increasingly prevalent issue, especially among young women. While they aren’t a new phenomenon, they are historically under-researched, and remain widely misunderstood. Without understanding the causes underlying these disorders or the mechanisms working to maintain them, treating them successfully has proved to be incredibly difficult. This is especially the case with Anorexia Nervosa. Out of the six eating disorders in the DSM-5, it has the lowest treatment success rate and an alarmingly high relapse rate. Treating the disorder through weight restoration and the extinction of compensatory behaviors alone does not fully resolve the disordered pathology; interpersonal problems that have been shown to be an integral part of Anorexia Nervosa are left unaddressed by our current treatment methods. By integrating aspects of Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, which asserts a link between the vagus nerve and the “Social Engagement System” that allows us to communicate interpersonally, into future therapeutic interventions, I predict that treatment success rates and quality of life after assimilation into society would increase, while rates of relapse and suicide would decrease.