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Title: Emotional abuse and eating disorders
Author: Leponis, A. F.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2005
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Events of eating disordered peoples’ lives, prior to the development of their eating disorder were examined to see if pre-existing factors contributed to their disorder. Six women who currently had or had recovered from an eating disorder were interviewed and the transcripts analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Five super-ordinate themes were identified: negative parental behaviour, child’s emotional response to her parents’ behaviour, child’s behavioural response to her parents, trigger and eating disorder as a coping strategy. These themes formed a theoretical model: emotional abuse beginning a process leading to an eating disorder. The need for multi-dimensional measure of emotional abuse was highlighted. Questions regarding parental emotional abuse were factor analysed. A mother and father version of the questionnaire was produced, each with three factors: Emotional coldness, control and psychological punishment. An upset scale was included that measured emotional affect. Emotional abuse was found to correlate with physical abuse and neglect, and eating disordered people had higher emotional abuse scores than their matched controls. The final study examined the relationships between different types of abuse, perfectionism (a sub-theme of the ‘child’s behavioural response to her parents’) and eating disorder symptoms. The results indicated that emotional abuse rarely existed independently of other types of abuse. Multiple regression analysis indicated that a mediated relationship existed (through negative perfectionism) between mother psychological punishment and body dissatisfaction in the non-eating disorder group that supported Kent, Waller and Dagnan’s (1999) findings that emotional abuse may be central to all types of abuse associated with unhealthy eating attitudes. Eating disordered people were more likely to have been emotionally abused. In the non-eating disorder group psychological punishment by the mother was related to body dissatisfaction through negative perfectionism. It was concluded that emotional abuse creates a vulnerability, although a further trigger is necessary to induce an eating disorder.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available