Personality Characteristics Associated with Eating Disorders

Reviews of studies on personality and personality disorders in anorexia nervosa conclude that obsessional symptoms appear to be correlated to the state of starvation whereas obsessional traits are stable personality features that are maintained even after weight restoration. Perfectionism provides a breeding ground in some ways for the development of anorexia nervosa when combined with genetic predisposition and other vulnerabilities; it perpetuates dissatisfaction because nothing is ever deemed to be good enough. High levels of perfectionism are associated with both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and in many cases perfectionist personalities were evident prior to the onset of the illness. Rigidity is a characteristic that has been more prevalent in anorexia nervosa and has been shown to be a stable trait that remains present even following recovery (see set-shifting). Personality characteristics associated with anorexia nervosa include: rigidity, perfectionism, inflexible thinking all of which are characteristic of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Low self-esteem and symptoms of depression are associated with childhood obesity and each of these factors combined with perfectionist traits and body dissatisfaction increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.

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