Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eating disorders and attachment

Attachment theory, is, put very simply, the idea that how we bond with our caregivers (particularly our mothers) in early childhood can have significant and long-standing effects on our relationships with others and our mental health later in life. A study of 92 Portuguese women between the ages of 15 and 30 and their parents and - where applicable - therapists looked into their attachment styles, their memories of their parents' child-rearing and (for those undergoing treatment) the bonds between clients and their therapists. The participants were made up of 30 people with anorexia, 27 with bulimia and a 35-strong control group. The researchers found that the control group had lower levels of attachment anxiety. Their mothers exhibited higher security than mothers of anorexic patients and lower avoidance than mothers of bulimic patients. For the anorexic group a good relationship with their therapist was associated with higher levels of emotional support and lower levels of rejection from fathers. For the bulimic group a good therapeutic relationship was associated with higher maternal emotional support and lower rejection and lower paternal overprotection.

Tereno, Susana ... [et al] - Attachment styles, memories of parental rearing and therapeutic bond: a study with eating disordered patients, their parents and therapists European Eating Disorders Review January-February 2008, 16(1), 49-58

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