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Anorexia and Family Dynamics

  • By: James Lock & Kathleen Fitzpatrick
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Families have been viewed as an essential part of the etiology and treatment of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder where the person is obsessed with food and being thin, since its initial descriptions in the medical literature. Early literature on family relationships and anorexia nervosa suggested that families caused and perpetuated the disorder. Consistent with the view of families as iatrogenic, or at the least not central to therapy, the focus on treatment development focused on individual therapy (e.g., the work of Hilde Bruch) and self-empowerment models for almost 100 years. However, in the 1970s, the seminal work of Salvador Minuchin and colleagues introduced the model of structural family therapy, which focused on the family as potentially helpful in resolving anorexia nervosa. Therapy was particularly ...

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