Background. Previous studies have examined childhood factors
that appear to increase the risk
of developing an eating disorder (e.g. sexual abuse and parental care).
have not yet examined whether the way in which women cope with these adversities
in childhood influences the risk.
Method. Using a semi-structured interview, childhood helplessness
and mastery were measured
(based on behavioural indices) in women with and without a history of
Results. There was a higher rate of childhood helplessness
lower rate of childhood
mastery in women with eating disorders compared to those without. Furthermore,
this difference did not appear to be a result of current psychiatric state.
Conclusion. It is concluded that it is not simply the presence
adversity in childhood which is
of aetiological importance in the development of eating disorders but the
in which these are negotiated.