Psychological attachment among eating disordered adolescents
The social pressure for women to conform to an unrealistic ideal of slimness has increased significantly over the past 20 years. Concurrently, the incidence of eating disorders, namely anorexia nervosa and bulimia, is reported to have grown steadily. A new group of persons is recently receiving some attention in the psychology literature and is referred to, by some researchers, as anorexic-like. What distinguishes this group is the presence of behaviors and attitudes like those of anorexics without the accompanying life-threatening weight loss. The initial purpose of this study was to sample high schools in Rhode Island and compare clinical anorexics to an anorexic-like and normal group on family and peer variables. Seven hundred and twenty five high school women in the 11th and 12th grades were weighed and measured and were also administered self-report questionnaires with questions on eating behaviors and attitudes, attachment to parents and peers, and family relationships. After failure to find a group that fit the criteria for the anorexic group, a bulimic group was identified and comparisons were made including this group. The findings of the study indicate that the anorexic-like group appears to feel less attached to parents than those in the normal group but does maintain feelings of attachment to peers that are no different than the normal group. The bulimic group, on the other hand, seems to feel alienated from both parent and peers. Both of these groups spend a significantly greater amount of time talking to peers about weight loss and dieting than do members of the normal group. The impact of attachments and relationships is discussed, as well as problems inherent in doing community survey studies of clinical syndrome. ^
Robin Eva Gibbs,
"Psychological attachment among eating disordered adolescents"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).