The Dark and Comforting Side of Night Eating: Women’s Experiences of Trauma

Yael Latzer, Revital Edelstein-Elkayam, Osnat Rabin, Sigal Alon, Miri Givon, Orna Tzischinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Night eating syndrome (NES) is classified as a delay of food intake, reflected by consuming large amounts after the evening meal or ingesting food after sleep onset (DSM-5). This article aims to describe NES experience, awareness, narratives, and behavior from the perspectives of patients with NES in light of their history of traumatic life events. Method: Semi-structured interviews based on the phenomenological approach were conducted with 18 women (aged 19–60) diagnosed with NES. Results: The analysis raised two themes: 1. References to NES as an experience that represents the darker sides of patients’ behaviors and involves helplessness, contempt, self-loathing, and a loss of control. Patients also related to difficult memories concerning sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. 2. References to the comforting side of NES patients’ behaviors that involves soothing, regulating, emotional disconnecting, and a sense of calm, control, and the ability to function. Conclusion: Findings present the relationship between traumatic life events, dissociation, and EDs. Clinically, they highlight the importance of an early assessment and a traumatic life history and suggest giving special treatment attention to the role of dissociation and night eating as regulatory mechanisms in the therapeutic process and alliance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • eating disorders
  • night eating syndrome
  • qualitative study
  • trauma
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health


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