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Can J Psychiatry. 1986 Oct;31(7):656-60.

Is there a relationship between sexual abuse or incest and eating disorders?


The significance of sexual conflicts in many patients with eating disorders has been well documented. However, even when these have been considered to have some degree of etiological importance, the occurrence of actual sexual trauma or incest in the early lives of these patients has been generally neglected in the literature. At one point in time, it was noted that five of six patients on an inpatient unit for eating disorders revealed an early history of sexual abuse or incest. These five cases are described. A parallel is drawn between the psychological problems experienced by victims of childhood sexual abuse and by patients with anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia. Our suspicion that these experiences may not be atypical led to the present article, which has implications for the investigation and management of eating-disordered patients.

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