RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
Anorexia nervosa in identical triplets.
The cause of anorexia nervosa (AN) is unclear, but is likely multifactorial, including psychological, familial, environmental, societal, genetic, and other biological factors. This case report of identical 12-year-old female triplets simultaneously concordant for AN illustrates the importance of addressing all these components in evaluation and treatment, and the difficulty of determining the relative importance of each factor in the cause of an individual's eating disorder. An overly close relationship and competitiveness between the girls, treated at times as a triplet group rather than as individuals, as well as stressful family dynamics, were probably important antecedents to the girls' AN. The girls encouraged each other and competed to lose weight. Brief individual and family psychotherapy, parent counseling, nutritional counseling, and psychoeducation led to successful treatment. The triplets were encouraged in treatment to compete with and encourage each other to obtain treatment goals, including eating more healthily and achieving healthy weights. A literature review of AN twins studies is also presented, as these studies add to our understanding of the relative importance of shared genes and shared environment in the development of AN. These studies also add insight into treating individuals from families with multiple affected relatives.
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