A study of temperament and personality in anorexia and bulimia nervosa

M Díaz-Marsá, J L Carrasco, J Sáiz
Journal of Personality Disorders 2000, 14 (4): 352-9
Although temperament and personality traits could influence the development and course of eating disorders, only a few studies examined the similarities and differences in personality between anorexia and bulimia nervosa. We compared 72 patients with DSM-IV eating disorders and 30 healthy controls. Dimensions of personality and personality disorders were evaluated with the Eysenck's EPQ, Cloninger's TCI, and the SCID-II questionnaires. The rates of impulsivity and clinical features were evaluated using specific rating scales. A comorbid personality disorder was found in 61.8% of patients with eating disorder. Avoidant personality disorder appeared was relatively common in anorexia nervosa restricting type; borderline personality disorder was most frequent in bulimia nervosa and the binge eating-purging type of anorexia nervosa. From a dimensional perspective, anorexic patients presented high scores in the dimension of persistence. Higher harm avoidance and impulsivity was found in bulimic patients. The overall eating disorders group presented high scores in neuroticism and low scores in self-directedness. Eating disorder patients have heterogeneous features of temperament and personality traits. Cluster C personality disorders seem more common in anorexia nervosa restricting type and impulsive personality features are associated with bulimic symptoms. Impulsivity seems to be a key aspect of temperament of bulimic patients, whereas anorexic symptoms are linked to persistent temperament traits.

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