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A phenominological inquiry into the experiences of fathers with eating-disordered daughters

25 July 2003


The investigation of familial influences on the development and . . maintenance of eating disorders focuses' almost exclusively on the mother-daughter relationship and concludes that it is injurious. The father-daughter relationship, described in the literature as troubled but not fundamental to the daughter's eating psychopathology, is seldom investigated. Some researchers note the paucity of father-based research and suggest that the recognition and investigation of the father is important to the advancement of clinical understanding and treatment of eating disorders. This study examined the subjective meanings and perspectives of fathers who have eating-disordered daughters in order to expand our understanding of how fathers are influenced and impacted by their daughters and how this in tum impacts their daughters. A phenomenological qualitative methodology was employed. Interviews were conducted with six volunteer fathers who have daughters who have received treatment for either anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Results of this study were encompassed into an overarching theme: "Struggling to understand and cope with his daughter's eating disorder, and in the process, developing a different relationship with her." This study provides new contributions to the literature and expands our understanding of how a father's experience with his daughter impacts the development, maintenance, and treatment of eating disorders.


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