At a general level, impulsivity is related to both bulimic and general psychopathology. However, it is a complex construct, and the specific role of different forms of impulsivity in psychopathology remains to be determined. The present study of bulimic outpatients examined the association of internally and externally directed impulsive behaviors with general and bulimic psychopathology.
Thirty female bulimic outpatients completed standardized measures of bulimic attitudes/behaviors, general psychopathology and impulsive behaviors.
While general psychopathology was associated with internally directed impulsive behaviors (e.g., self-harm), bulimic pathology was more specifically linked with externally directed impulsivity (e.g., theft; reckless driving)
The results indicate that the bulimia-impulsivity link in eating disordered patients is not simply a by-product of the broader association of impulsivity with psychopathology. Therefore, bulimic pathology does not seem to be just a manifestation of general psychological disturbance. Further research is suggested to test these results, and potential clinical implications are outlined. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 32: 98–102, 2002.