Childhood Sexual Abuse Impacting the Etiology of Eating Disorders Essay

Childhood Sexual Abuse Impacting the Etiology of Eating Disorders Essay

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Childhood Sexual Abuse Impacting the Etiology of Eating Disorders




Today's literature estimates that as many as 1 in 3 females and 1 in 7 boys have been the victim of sexual abuse. There are about 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of incest each year in each major city in the United States. It is reported by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse that in 1993, 2.9 million children were reported to protective services because they were being abused, neglected, or both (Schwartz). 16% of these 2.9 million children had been sexually abused. It is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today http://www.prevent-abuse-now.com/stats.htm#Disclosure. This childhood sexual abuse has been implicated by some eating disorder experts as a factor in the etiology of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorder experts are currently engaged in heated debate concerning whether sexual abuse is a specific risk factor or a general risk factor in the development of eating disorders. Those who propose a specific link hypothesis believe that eating disorders are directly related to early sexual abuse and are a form of gender specific posttraumatic stress disorder. The proponents of the specific link hypothesis believe that their exists "complex, multiple mediating mechanisms between sexual abuse and disordered eating" (Kearney-Cook, 1994). They believe that sexual abuse has a direct effect on the victims body image. There is an emphasis on the "adverse effects of sexual abuse on body esteem, self-regulation, identity, and on interpersonal functioning" (Kearney-Cook, 1994). Those on the opposite side of the argument believe that eating disorders are not specifically caused by sex...


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...ke-Kearney, Ann and Striegel-Moore, Ruth H. (1994). Treatment of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa: A Feminist Psychodynamic Approach. International Journal Of Eating Disorders, 4, 305 - 319

Waller, Glenn. (1991). Sexual Abuse as a Factor in Eating Disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 664 - 671

Kinzl, Johann F., et al. (1994). Family Background and Sexual Abuse Associated with Eating Disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 151,
1127 - 1130

Moyer, Diane M, et al. (1997). Childhood Sexual Abuse and Precursors of Binge Eating in an Adolescent Female Population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 21, 23 - 30

Zlotnick, Caron, et al. (1996). The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Eating Pathology. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 20, 129 - 134

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