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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Feb;192(2):129-38.

Stability of personality traits in patients who received intensive treatment for a severe eating disorder.

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National Centre for Eating Disorders, Robert Fleury Stichting, Leidschendam, The Netherlands.


A longitudinal prospective design with four assessments was used to examine the stability of personality traits and their relation to recovery in patients with restrictive anorexia nervosa (N=35), bingeing/purging anorexia nervosa (N=37), bulimia nervosa (N=47), and eating disorder not otherwise specified (N=27). Recovery is associated with changes in personality traits in the direction of healthy control women. Recovered patients still show higher harm avoidance and higher persistence than healthy control women. These temperament factors seem to be a vulnerability factor for developing an eating disorder. Novelty seeking seems to define the type of eating disorder one is prone to develop. The character dimensions contribute the most to recovery. High self-directedness contributes to a favorable prognosis of bulimic symptomatology, whereas high cooperativeness contributes to an unfavorable prognosis in patients with anorexia nervosa.

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