Treatment of eating disorders improves eating symptoms but not alexithymia and dissociation proneness

Iulian Iancu*, Etti Cohen, Yoram Ben Yehuda, Moshe Kotler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Eating disorders have been reported to increase in frequency, but it is yet unclear what psychological characteristics increase the proneness toward the development of eating disorders. Alexithymia (AL; a difficulty in awareness to one's emotions) and dissociation proneness are 2 such plausible features. Method: In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of a combined intervention (group therapy, individual therapy, and pharmacologic therapy) in a group of soldiers with eating disorders (n = 30) in the Israel Defense Forces. Moreover, we examined whether AL and dissociation proneness were frequent in this group and whether clinical improvement was associated with an improvement in these factors as well. Results: High scores on the AL and dissociation measures were noted. The intervention was associated with a 50% decrease in the Eating Attitudes Test and Eating Disorders Inventory scores, consistent with our clinical impression of improvement in the eating symptoms. However, the decrease observed on the Dissociative Experiences Scale and Toronto Alexithymia Scale scores was minimal. Conclusions: The combined intervention was efficient in our sample of patients with eating disorder despite the small sample size. The aforementioned specific psychometric change may be indicative of the lack of importance of changes in AL or dissociation proneness in the short-term improvement in patients with eating disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


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