Defense mechanisms in female adolescents with partial eating disorders

Y. Bronstein, D. Stein, A. Elizur, A. Weizman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The concept of partial eating disorders is gaining considerable importance in recent years in the study of predictors for the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether defense mechanisms typical of anorectic females denial, projection, regression, repression and compensation, was well as the employment of more immature and maladaptive defense styles in general - would appear also in youngsters with partial eating syndromes. Methods: Four hundred twenty-three 10th to 12th grade females adolescents from different high schools in Tel Aviv were administered the Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26), evaluating the existence of partial eating disorders, and two defense mechanisms questionnaires: Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ), and Life Style Index (LSI). In addition systematic questionnaires inquired about demographic parameters, eating habits of the subjects and families, and menstruation disturbances. Weight and height were assessed after completing the questionnaires. Results: Twenty-two and a half percent of the respondents had pathological scores on the EAT-26. Compared with the youngsters with normal scores on the EAT-26, these females demonstrated more dissatisfaction with weight, higher preoccupation with dieting, including in their families, lower body mass index, and increased employment of compensation, regression and basically more maladaptive styles. Significantly more subjects with partial bulimia nervosa used these defenses compared with either normal respondents or those with partial anorexia nervosa. Conclusion: The appearance in partial eating disorders of defense mechanism similar to those of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa may confirm their importance as possible predictors of the clinical disturbance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-319
Number of pages2
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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