Date of Graduation
Researchers have documented a high percentage of eating disordered individuals with a history of traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse (Abramson & Lucido, 1991; Oppenheimer, Howells, Palmer, & Chaloner, 1985; Tice, Hall, Beresford, Quinones, & Hall, 1989). To what extent these adverse life events may contribute to the onset, maintenance, and severity of maladaptive eating behaviors is widely debated among researchers and clinicians. The present study attempted to identify a spectrum of potentially traumatic life experiences in eating disordered individuals and their relationship with dissociation and eating pathology. Thirty-four female subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for Bulimia Nervosa (n = 13) or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (n = 21) who were currently seeking treatment for their eating disorder participated in the study. Measures included: the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI-2), the Eating Disorders Inventory Symptom Checklist (EDI-SC), the Early Trauma Interview and Inventory (ETI), Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40), and the Dissociative Experiences Scale-II (DES-II). Results indicated a high rate of early childhood trauma, particularly sexual victimization (74%). No significant differences were noted between the eating disorder groups in the amount of overall trauma or dissociation, however, a trend was noted for a greater amount and longer duration of sexual trauma for bulimic individuals. Bulimic individuals reported an earlier onset of eating problems and self-induced vomiting. When sexual abuse history was considered, individuals with a history of incest reported greater levels of trauma, family dysfunction, eating disturbance, and comorbid pathology (e.g. substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, suicide attempts, self-mutilation) compared to individuals with extrafamilial assault. Results suggest that eating disorder pathology may develop in response to a variety of early childhood experiences rather than to one discreet category of abuse. It is likely that family dysfunction may also contribute to the cumulative impact of early trauma.
Bailey, Patricia Marie, "An examination of the relationship between childhood sexual abuse, dissociation, and eating disorders." (2000). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8434.