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Am J Psychiatry. 1995 Nov;152(11):1630-4.

Persistent perfectionism, symmetry, and exactness after long-term recovery from anorexia nervosa.

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Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA 15213, USA.



It is well recognized that patients with anorexia nervosa have perfectionistic and obsessive behaviors. This study investigated whether such behaviors persist after recovery.


Twenty subjects who had recovered from anorexia nervosa were recruited for the study. They had been at normal weight and their menses had been regular for more than a year. These subjects were compared with 16 healthy women with the use of the Eating Disorder Inventory, the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale.


The recovered anorexic patients had significantly higher scores than the comparison women on the measures of perfectionism on the Eating Disorder Inventory and on overall perfectionism on the Frost scale. Moreover, the recovered patients had higher scores on the Yale-Brown scale, with target symptoms suggesting that many had specific concerns with symmetry and exactness.


Certain characteristics of anorexia nervosa, such as a need for order and precision, persist after good outcome and recovery, raising the question of whether these behaviors are traits that contribute to the pathogenesis of this illness.

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