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An investigation of Axis II personality traits in a sample of outpatient eating disordered clients

20 December 2002


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders (American Psychological Association, 1994.) Among patients with eating disorders, only a third ever recover fully after an initial episode and another third vacillate between activity and remission, while the remaining third deteriorate on a chronic course. In studying the two-thirds of clients with eating disorders who do not achieve full remission, it is hypothesized by this author that significant Axis II pathology is often the underlying condition and disordered eating behavior is the symptomatic expression of this pathology rather than the illness in and of itself. The 27 subjects used in this study were clients in an outpatient eating disorders program at the Wright Institute of Los Angeles. They had all completed the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAl) as part of the initial screening for entrance into the program. The results of the present study largely reaffirms the findings in the literature, specifically that many individuals who seek treatment for eating disorders have marked psychopathology that extends beyond the physical symptoms of an eating disorder. These findings are a compelling argument for more in-depth, individualistic treatment of clients with eating disorders that does not focus solely on disordered eating habits. Additionally, through this study, the PAl has been shown to be a test that provides a thorough descriptive profile for individuals with eating disorders and character pathology..


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