ERIC Number: ED267360
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Engaging the Disengaged Father in the Treatment of Eating Disordered Adolescents.
Maine, Margo D.
Although the mental health field tends to underestimate the father's role in the psychological development of the child, eating disordered women reveal a consistent pattern of paternal distance and disengagement that is fundamental to their developmental problems. To examine how the father's emotional and/or physical absence contributed to the development of eating disorders, interviews were conducted with 39 females between the ages of 9 and 23 who presented with primary anorexia nervosa. Thirty-six of the 39 subjects characterized their fathers as emotionally disengaged and believed that this distant relationship was a significant factor contributing to their illnesses. Sixteen subjects reported that their fathers had been involved during their early years and that through illness, alcoholism, or divorce, became distant. The symptoms of eating disorders may function to help the young woman regain her father's support and attention. Therapists can use various methods to engage the disengaged father. A case presentation of one anorexic and the therapist's inclusion of the family, specifically the father, in treatment illustrates the effectiveness of this approach. The anorexic's appreciation of her father's role in her treatment can be a powerful therapeutic tool. Implications of these findings include the involvement of the entire family in the treatment of eating disordered patients, with special emphasis on the impact of the father's distance or disengagement on the family. Theoretically, a new appreciation of the father's role in female psychological development is needed. (Author/NB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference on Anorexia and Bulimia (New York, NY, November 16-17, 1985).