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Adolescent Eating Disorders and Attachment
Araceli Hogg & Zeynep Cifci
University of Houston

Adolescent Eating Disorders and Attachment
Eating Disorders (ED) negatively affect 25% of adolescents. It is a disorder that compiles abnormal eating habits that includes either excessive or insufficient food intake. These abnormal eating habits can definitely affect the individual's physical and mental health. Different factors are presume to be correlated with eating disorders in adolescents. Some examples consist of depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, low self-esteem, role of attachment, parental relationships, etc (Gossens, Braet, Bosmans, & Decaluwé, 2011). In the present paper, an examination of the role of attachment that eating disorders play in adolescents is explored. It is hypothesized that lower quality of attachment to parents in adolescents is associated with higher level of eating disorders. The following six literature reviews attempt to display and support this hypothesis. In a research article by Bachar, Canetti, Hochfdorf, Latzer ( 2002), two questions were addressed to conduct the study. First, is the role of the family environment related to anorexic and bulimic patients? Second, are disrupted attachment behaviors linked to anorexia and bulimia disorders? The focus of the investigation was on encouragement of personal growth, parental attachment styles during the process of separation-individuation (detachment of parents) and exploration of the outside world, and compare the results with a control group (adolescents without eating disorders). It is hypothesized that family environment of individuals with eating disorders show lower levels of cohesiveness, expressiveness, encouragement of personal growth, and maintenance than families of normal controls. The sample consisted originally of 25 anorexic and 33 bulimic female patients, and 37 female controls. The results in this study supported the hypothesis that the families' encouragement of personal growth toward patients with eating disorders was below the general level. Insufficient encouragement of personal growth and undetermined attachment styles was found to be a possible indication of family issues in supporting the adolescent during the process of separation-individuation and the exploration of the outside world. Compared to the families of normal controls, maintenance of cohesiveness and expressiveness in the family environment also reflected lower levels. Likewise, patients with eating disorders showed t o be less secure, more anxious, and more avoidant than controls (Latzer, Hochdorf, Bachar, & Canetti, 2002). One limitation to the study is that the sample was composed of all females. Another limitation to the study is the reliability of the self-report measures and its accuracy. Next, the topic of attachment theory, proximity seeking behaviors in relation with the development of eating disorders is considered. In a research article by Orzolek-Kronner (2002), two questions were addressed. First, do adolescents with eating disorders show more behaviors of anxious/insecure attachment patterns? Second, do adolescents with eating disorders show more proximity seeking behaviors such as purging behaviors, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting in order to develop a closer parental relationship? The focus of the study was to investigate the relationship between proximity seeking behaviors, attachment theory, and the development of eating disorders in three groups of adolescents females: individuals with eating disorders, clinical controls, and non-clinical controls. A sample of 44 individuals with eating disorders, 28 clinical controls, and 36 non-clinical controls were used in the study. The results indicate that compared to both clinical groups, the non-clinical group presented a higher quality of attachment to their parents. Parental relationship was linked to life-satisfaction, self-esteem, and good psychological adjustment....
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