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Eur Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;30(1):114-20. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Father-daughter relationship and the severity of eating disorders.

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Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.
Ariel University, Ariel, Israel; Child and Adolescents Division, Geha Mental Health Center, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 102, 49100 Petah Tikva, Israel.
Shalvata Mental Health Center, Hod HaSharon, Israel.
Child and Adolescents Division, Geha Mental Health Center, Tel Aviv University, P.O. Box 102, 49100 Petah Tikva, Israel; Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; Division of Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology, Psychiatry Department, Columbia University, NY, USA. Electronic address:



Mother-daughter relationship was the focus of studies on the development of eating disorders (ED) for many years. This study aimed to examine the association between the father-daughter relationship and ED and depressive symptoms.


Fifty-three women diagnosed with ED were compared to a psychiatric control group (n=26) and to healthy participants (n=60) regarding their perception of their fathers and the relationship with them. Assessments were done using the Parental Bonding Instrument, the Eating Disorders Questionnaire, the Body Shape Questionnaire, the Eating Attitude Test, and the Beck Depression Inventory as well as narrative-based methods.


Fathers' negative attributes were significantly associated with ED and depressive symptom. Two profiles of father-daughter relationship were found, the "caring and benevolent" relationship and the "overprotective and avoidant" one. In the latter, patients displayed significantly higher levels of food-restraint, more concerns about eating and about their body shape and appearance, and higher levels of depression.


Negative perception of the father's parenting style as well as the quality of the relationship with him are crucial for the understanding of the development and persistence of ED. Therapeutic programs for ED should focus not only on the relationship with the mother but must also address the relationship with the father.


Attachment; Depression; Eating disorder; Father; Parenting

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