Skip to main content

The family and anorexia nervosa: examining parent–child boundary problems

The full text article is not available for purchase.

The publisher only permits individual articles to be downloaded by subscribers.



To examine parent–child boundary dissolution in anorexia nervosa using a measure that treats boundary phenomena as multidimensional and distinct from highly cohesive relationships.


30 women with anorexia were recruited from an eating disorders programme and compared with 65 control women on reports of intergenerational boundary problems using the Parent-Child Boundaries Scale. This measure conceptualizes boundaries as multidimensional and can address both mother–daughter and father–daughter relations. Family cohesion was also measured using the FACES III. A subset of parents completed these measures.


Women with anorexia reported more boundary problems with mothers and fathers than did control women, both in terms of global and some specific violations. However, parents of anorexic women did not endorse more boundary problems with their daughters.


Daughters' views suggest that boundary violations are problematic in anorexia. Results suggest that boundary problems can be treated as multidimensional and should be viewed as distinct from high levels of familial cohesion. These results also suggest that it is important to ascertain individual family members' viewpoints on family dynamics. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

Keywords: anorexia; enmeshment; family; parent–child relationships

Document Type: Miscellaneous


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Canada 2: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Children's Psychiatric Institute, John Unstead Hospital, USA 3: Eating Disorders Program, St Paul's Hospital, Canada

Publication date: 2001-03-01

More about this publication?
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more