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Keywords:

  • bulimia nervosa;
  • childhood emotional abuse;
  • ineffectiveness;
  • affective instability;
  • eating-disorder symptoms

Abstract

Objective:

We sought to estimate prevalences of childhood emotional abuse (CEA) in bulimic and normal-eater control groups, and to replicate previous findings linking CEA to severity of eating symptoms in BN. We also examined potential mediators of the link between CEA and disordered eating.

Method:

Women diagnosed with a bulimic disorder (n = 176) and normal-eater women (n = 139) were assessed for childhood traumata, eating-disorder (ED) symptoms and psychopathological characteristics (ineffectiveness, perfectionism, depression, and affective instability) thought to be potential mediators of interest.

Results:

CEA was more prevalent in the bulimic than in the nonbulimic group, and predicted severity of some eating-symptom indices. Ineffectiveness and affective instability both mediated relationships between CEA and selected ED symptoms.

Discussion:

We found CEA to predict eating pathology through mediating effects of ineffectiveness and affective instability. CEA might influence severity of ED symptoms by impacting an individual's self-esteem and capacity for affect regulation. © 2011 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)