Eating and Personality Disorders
The correlation between eating disorders and other psychological disorders is very important for our understanding of the causes and possible treatments for eating disorders. It is known that many people with eating disorders also fit the criteria for several DSM-IV psychological disorders. If researchers can find patterns of comorbidity between these two types of disorders they may be able to better diagnose and treat patients with both of these disorders. The question that I pose it what is the relationship between eating disorders and personality disorders(axis 11 disorders in DSM-IV)? It is important to look for comorbidity between the two disorders to determine the impact they have on each other. Once we understand their relationship we may be able to prevent one disorder by treating the other or maybe use the same type of therapy to treat both. In order to answer the question posed I have reviewed several major research articles on the prevalence and comorbidity of personality disorders and eating disorders.
Personality disorders fall under axis 11 of the DSM-IV. This section includes borderline, schizoid, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive and avoidant disorders. There are several disorders included in axis 11 but for our purposes we will mostly be dealing with the disorders listed above. The most common personality disorder found among patients with eating disorders is borderline disorder. The majority of the research deals with borderline disorder, a disorder that is characterized by "vulnerability to a range of impulsive behaviors (overeating, shoplifting, substance abuse) and a history of self-destructive behavior, including suicidal gestures and self-mutilation. They show affective instability marked by rapid fluctuations of moods ranging from intense irritability and anger to profound feelings of depression, emptiness and boredom."(Johnson, 1989, p.9).
In a majority of the research articles studies were done on both patients with anorexia nervosa and patients with bulimia nervosa. During the research, as we will see, there was some difference in the comorbidity of personality disorders depending on whether the subjects were anorexic or bulimic.
RESULTS OF MAJOR EXPERIMENTS
Unfortunately there are no clear cut answers to the question posed at the beginning of this article. The main reason, which I will describe later, has to due with the broad range of analisation techniques used by researchers in defining and determining the rate and impact of comorbidity. There isn't any question that there is a great deal of comorbidity between eating disorders and personality disorders because most of the research done has found some correlation. The question remains as to how much of a correlation there is and what effect the personality disorders have on eating disorders. In order to examine this closer it...