The eating disorders of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have been estimated to affect between .5% and 2% of young women in Western societies (Cooper, Charnock, & Taylor, 1987; Crisp, Palmer, & Kalucy, 1976) and are probably becoming more common. For anorexia nervosa, case register and hospital record studies as well as population surveys indicate that the increase in the number of patients is probably due to an increase in incidence rather than in case referral (Crisp et al., 1976; Jones, Fox, Babigan, & Hutton, 1980; Kendell, Hall, Hailey, & Babigan, 1973; Szmukler, McCance, McCrone, & Hunter, 1986; Theander, 1970; Willi & Grossman, 1983). This finding has clear implications for our search for the etiology of the eating disorders. Some have dismissed the search for causes as being irrelevant on the grounds that the disorders represent interactional and thus circular processes (e.g., Moley, 1983). This attitude is unfortunate because it may lead to premature foreclosure on further discussion and research. And it is misguided for the simple reason that, even if the process is interactive, self-reinforcing, and circular, the question remains why such processes, presumably present in all families, become pathological (i.e., correlated with the presence of an eating disorder) in some families and not in others.


Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Binge Eating Bulimia Nervosa Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. K. George Hsu
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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