The relationship between parental bonding and core beliefs in anorexic and bulimic women

Br J Clin Psychol. 2000 Jun;39(2):205-13. doi: 10.1348/014466500163220.


Objective: The role of core beliefs in the psychopathology of eating disorders has been considered in recent years. Young (1994) hypothesized that unhealthy core beliefs originate from the experience from the first few years of life. The aim of the present study was to consider whether perceived parental bonding might explain the development of such beliefs in eating disordered women.

Method: The participants were 30 anorexics, 27 bulimics and 23 comparison women who completed measures of core beliefs and perceived parental bonding.

Results: There were significant differences in perceived parental bonding behaviours across groups. The association between parental bonding and core beliefs were much stronger in the anorexic group than that in either the bulimic or the control group. In particular, a perceived low level of parental care was predictive of the presence of some unhealthy core beliefs in anorexic women.

Conclusion: Longitudinal research is needed to confirm these findings among anorexic and bulimic women. Clinically, these findings provide insight into the possible origins or core beliefs, and hence might aid their challenge in schema-focused cognitive therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia / psychology*
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*