Semmelweis University Institute of Behavioural Sciences
Introduction. Lower parental care and higher overprotection are conceptualized as distinguishing factors of eating disorders. Their role is not clarified in several symptoms. No model investigates the interaction of parental bonding and the patient’s personality, depression and body dissatisfaction in the development of symptoms.
Aims. The aim was to test these aspects with path analysis.
Methods. A cross-sectional online survey using expert sampling was implemented with the Eating Disorder Inventory, the Eating Behavior Severity Scale, the Parental Bonding Instrument, the 44-item Big Five Inventory and the CES-D Depression Scale. The sample consisted of 258 females (mean age: 31.6; mean BMI: 23.3), divided into four groups: 95 eating disorder patients; 117 individuals without eating disorder; 28 emotional eaters; and 18 patients in remission.
Results. Levels of parental care and overprotection were not different between individuals with and without eating disorders. However, lower maternal was related to emotional eating, lower paternal care to purging, and lower maternal and paternal care to impulsive symptoms. According to the structural equation modeling, of all attachment dimensions only lower paternal care and higher paternal overprotection predicted more severe eating disorder symptoms mediated by of stronger trait neuroticism and higher levels of depression and body dissatisfaction. The model explained 25.5% of the variance of symptoms.
Conclusions. Levels of parental care and overprotection are not distinguishing features of eating disorder patients; but they can be related to the type and intensity of various symptoms, suggesting the importance of perceived parental bonding. Results emphasize the importance of the fathers, and an interaction between paternal bonding features and the patient’s trait neuroticism as a core mediator in the development symptoms. Levels of paternal care, overprotection, and the patient’s emotional instability, depression and body dissatisfaction may offer intervention points. Longitudinal, intervention-based studies are required to confirm these results.
Keywords. parental bonding, personality, eating disorder, path analysis
Doctoral School: Mental Health Sciences
Program: Mental Health Sciences
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ferenc Túry
E-mail address: email@example.com