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Compr Psychiatry. 2010 Jul-Aug;51(4):393-400. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Dissociation in eating disorders: relationship between dissociative experiences and binge-eating episodes.

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Cognitive Psychotherapy Clinical Centre, 50144 Florence, Italy.



Several findings support the hypothesis that there is a relationship between dissociation and eating disorders (EDs). The aims of this study were as follows: (1) to assess whether ED patients show a higher level of dissociation than healthy control (HC) individuals or psychiatric control patients with anxiety and mood disorders and (2) to investigate the effects of dissociation on ED symptoms, specifically binge eating behavior.


Fifty-four ED patients, 56 anxiety and mood disorders control patients, and 39 HC individuals completed the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire and the Dissociation Questionnaire. Each participant was asked about the number of binge eating episodes he or she had experienced in the past 4 weeks.


The ED patients had higher levels of dissociation than both the psychiatric control group and the HC group. In the ED group, the number of binge episodes was related to the level of dissociation.


Dissociative experiences are relevant in EDs, and binge eating is related to dissociation. In patients affected by the core psychopathologic beliefs of EDs (overevaluation of shape and weight), dissociation may allow an individual to initiate binging behavior, thus decreasing self-awareness and negative emotional states, without having to deal with the long-term consequences of their actions.

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