UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute 90024-1759, USA.
Although histories of child sexual abuse among eating disorder patients have attracted considerable attention in the past decade, relatively little is known about parental physical abuse among these patients. We examined aspects of childhood parental physical punishment and its family environmental correlates among women with a lifetime history of bulimia nervosa (BN group; n = 80) and women with no history of eating disorder (Control group; n = 40), recruited primarily by newspaper advertisement. Women in the BN group reported significantly more physical punishment and perceived their discipline to have been more harsh and capricious than women in the Control group. Nonetheless, the groups did not differ significantly in the extent to which they believed they deserved their punishment or in their belief that they were "physically abused." Further, subjects often failed to assert that they had been physically abused despite meeting conservative criteria, while the reverse tendency was uncommon. Finally, increased levels of physical punishment were associated with greater global family pathology in the BN group, but not in the Control group. Our findings underscore the necessity of explicitly inquiring about physically punitive events in the histories of bulimic women, as well as beliefs regarding these events.
PMID: 7552835, UI: 96023749