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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2003 December;44(4):207-16

language: Italian

Impact of child sexual abuse in anorectic patients

Bellini M., Bove P.


This is a critical review of the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and anorexia nervosa, which is differentiated by the overall eating-disorders category. Referring to abused persons, many authors believe that a non-specific risk is present, eliciting anorexia and being similar to the risk for other psychiatric disorders. Among eating-disordered patients, the mentioned abuse is known mainly to involve the bulimic ones; as for anorectic patients, it is found as well, but more frequently in the binging/purging subtype than in the restrictive subtype. It depends on the fact that sexual abuse is much more related to binging and purging. Moreover, sexual vs physical or psychological childhood abuses are discussed. Among many variables, the impact of family support is considered on patients with a history of sexual abuse. When the abused child protected by his/her family is more able to overcome the trauma with fewer psychopathologic consequences. On the contrary, when the family, ignores requests for help or criticizes the victim, the psychopathologic effects increase. Fewer authors point out that child sexual abuse is a specific risk factor for subsequent development of eating disorders, particulary when co-occurring with a younger age-cohort under possible influence of environmental variables.

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