Anorexia Nervosa is a severe and disabling mental disorder and a huge challenge to treat. Intense fears of e.g., food, eating, weight gain and social evaluation are core features of anorexia nervosa and obstacles during treatment. The perceived threats trigger avoidance and safety behaviors like highly restrictive eating, strict eating rules, vomiting and body checking, to minimize feared outcomes. The role of avoidance in anorexia nervosa is however hardly studied experimentally. In the present article, the focus is on a new transdiagnostic research agenda featuring both basic and clinical experimental research into avoidance as a most important mechanism maintaining the eating disorder. Avoidance learning and the generalization of learned avoidance behaviors are discussed, as well as safety behaviors and the need for inhibitory learning as a treatment target during exposure therapy. All rights reserved, Elsevier.

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