Maddison Paul, PsyD, is a 2023 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Michael Sakuma, PhD, Committee Chair

Holley Kaskel, PsyD, Committee Member

William Heusler, PsyD, Committee Member


orthorexia, healthism, social media, disordered eating

Document Type


Publication Date



Orthorexia, a pathological fixation with healthy eating, has recently emerged as a construct of interest in the field of clinical psychology. Despite its growing recognition, the origin of this construct remains unclear. This dissertation aims to contribute to the understanding of orthorexia by examining its emergence and contextual factors through a constructivist lens. The study found that the cultural, economic, and moralistic landscape of healthism and social medially have played a role in the development of orthorexia. The dominant clinical perspective of orthorexia was also deconstructed, revealing potential biases that may lead to pathologizing the experiences of those who demonstrate orthorexic behaviors. The study highlights the need for careful consideration of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the integration of orthorexia into diagnostic and clinical models. However, it also acknowledges the reality of individuals expressing suffering in the form of orthorexic behavior and provides treatment considerations to honor their experiences and desire for relief in a clinical setting. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Maddison Paul, PsyD, 2023

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0003-1446-325X