Psychosomatic family: An influential theoretical model from which the family treatment of eating disorders was originally derived. The "psychosomatic family" hypothesized that an eating disorder developed in a dysfunctional family, one characterized by rigidity, enmeshment, over-involvement and conflict avoidance or conflict non-resolution. The goal of family therapy was to alter the way the family functioned. Research has since shown that family environment does not cause the illness; however, as an eating disorder can undermine family life -- and as a result, recovery -- modern treatment providers have evolved the concept of family therapy to be about working with the family's strengths and not assuming the family was dysfunctional.
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