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Family Responsibility for Eating Disorders; Problems with Parent Involvement

Abstract: Eating disorders is a family responsibility. Specific elements can be found, such as communication difficulties, incapacity to recognize emotions, serious concerns about weight and body image within the family, etc.

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Family Responsibility for Eating Disorders; Problems with Parent Involvement

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 05 Aug 2008.

Are eating disorders the responsibility of the whole family? Are there any problems with parent involvement in other family member's eating problems?


There is a large specialist bibliography on family predisposing factors for eating disorders. For many years eating disorders have been considered by many researchers as a pathology that begins in the family unit.

Nowadays many of the same doctors that were pioneers of this approach have become more cautious. It has been shown that eating disorders are pathologies with multiple causes and that in many patients’ families some specific elements can be found:

  • various levels of communication difficulties among the members
  • incapacity, more or less serious, to recognize emotions
  • serious concerns about weight and body image by some members of the family (besides the patients)

We have noticed that in close relatives of patients there is a high incidence of affective personality disorders, alcoholism and eating disorders.

In general we can say that a family predisposes a person to suffer from emotional disorders and eating disorders if it cannot pass on a self-esteem that includes:

  • a realistic body image
  • an awareness of mental functioning
  • clearness of limits between self and the world
  • effective adjustment strategies to control impulses, feelings and desires
  • a reasonable self-esteem
  • a good sense of personal identity
  • an interior coherence and feeling of individuality.

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question:
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