Article

The assessment of the family of people with eating disorders

Psychological Medicine Department, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.
European Eating Disorders Review (Impact Factor: 1.38). 07/2008; 16(4):247-55. DOI: 10.1002/erv.859
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for eating disorders recommend that carers should be provided with information and support and that their needs should be considered if relevant. The aim of this paper is to describe how to structure an assessment of carers needs so that the family factors that can contribute to the maintenance of eating disorder symptoms are examined. We describe in detail the pattern of interpersonal reactions that can result when a family member has an eating disorder. Shared traits such as anxiety, compulsivity and abnormal eating behaviours contribute to some of the misperceptions, misunderstandings and confusion about the meaning of the eating disorder for family members. Unhelpful attributions can fuel a variety of emotional reactions (criticism, hostility, overprotection, guilt and shame). Gradually these forces cause family members to accommodate to the illness or be drawn in to enable some of the core symptoms.

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