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A comparison of characteristics in the families of patients with anorexia nervosa and normal controls

  • Paul E. Garfinkel (a1), David M. Garner (a1), Julia Rose (a1), Padraig L. Darby (a1), J. S. Brandes (a1), Jacinta O'Hanlon (a1) and Noel Walsh (a1)...


The present study compared families of patients with anorexia nervosa with families of non-anorexic adolescent daughters of a similar social class. All anorexics and adolescent comparison girls and their parents were studied using a variety of psychometric measures. Body size estimation and physical anhedonia were also measured. Family characteristics were assessed using the Family Assessment Measure (FAM). Contrary to the hypotheses, no abnormalities were found in terms of parental attitudes to weight control or dieting. The mothers of anorexics displayed no increase in psychopathology on any of the measures. The fathers scored very similarly to controls but with higher degrees of conscientiousness. Neither fathers nor mothers displayed abnormalities of their own body size estimates or body satisfaction. On the FAM the anorexic families reported an increased pathology on several sub-scales. It is not possible to say whether these disturbances are part of the pathogenesis or are sequelae to the illness.


Corresponding author

11Address for correspondence: Dr Paul E. Garfinkel, Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1L7, Canada.


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