Attachment Styles and Eating Disorders
There have been many studies over the years regarding attachment styles and eating disorders. This is due to the incidence of eating disorders increasing in numbers among young women in industrialized countries. This rise has been seen in the last three decades. Eating disorders are prevalent among young women but also include some young men as well. The studies used for this review pertained to women only. Researchers have demonstrated the correlation between anorexia nervosa and bulimia in regards to attachment styles in many instances. This review of the literature on attachment styles and eating disorders focuses on the following six items.
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This studies goal was to examine the extent to which family environment and attachment styles are concurrently related to eating disorders.
Troisi and Cuzzolaro (2005) wanted to see whether women with eating disorders have a higher frequency of separation anxiety symptoms in childhood, and a higher prevalence of insecure styles of adult attachment, compared with healthy women. This study used the Separation Anxiety Symptom Inventory (SASI) and the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ). The second purpose of this study was to see whether different styles of insecure adult attachment are linked with diagnostic subgroups of eating disorders.
Ringer and Crittenden’s (2007) study examined the pattern of attachment in women with an eating disorder to determine what types of self-protective strategies they used and also whether there was a specific relationship between strategy and diagnosis. Their study used the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) method.
Tereno, Soares, Martins, Celani, and Sampaio (2008) did a study on patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, their parents and their therapists. This study was to examine the differences between clinical groups and a control group in terms of attachment styles and perceptions of memories of parental rearing. This study used the Portuguese version of the Adult Attachment Scale and the Inventory for Assessing Memories of Parental Rearing Behavior. The first used a five-point Likert scale and the second used a four-point Livert scale.
Lastly, we have Turner, Bryant-Waugh, and Peveler (2009) who did a study to see whether clinically meaningful sub-groups of patients can be identified by clustering eating disorder features, attachment and coping styles. This study used the Eating Disorder Examination, Attachment Style Questionnaire and the Utrecht Coping List.
Who Were the Participants in the Studies Involved?
The participants were women with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, other eating disorders and a control group of healthy women. The participants were from various eating disorder clinics, as well as the Centre for Eating Disorders of the University of Rome, Italy. Women were also recruited from hospitals in Perth and Brisbane, private psychologists and psychiatrists, and advertising. The advertisements were approved by the ethics committee. Participants also came from the Eating Disorder Unit of Santa Maria’s Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal. The participants range in age from approximately 15 years old to 36 years old. The study, Tereno et al, also included the parents and therapists to examine differences between clinical groups and a control group in terms of attachment styles and perceptions of memories of parental rearing.
What Were the Designs of the Studies?
The designs of the studies were slightly different for each study. For example (Latzer et al), set their study up to examine the extent to which eating disorders are concurrently related to family...