An investigation of the Bulimic Syndrome in women

Lanpher, Karen Braun, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
La Fleur, Neal, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Ball, Donald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Spivack, James D., University of Virginia
Sowa, Claudia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This study was designed to investigate the most recently recognized eating disorder, Bulimia, in normal weight women. This Bulimic Syndrome is characterized by a cyclical pattern of binge-eating, purgative abuse and rigid dieting and is accompanied by a host of psychological variables, primarily depression. This study provided mental health professionals with an in-depth descriptive analysis of the essential behavioral and psychological features of this abnormal eating pattern.

The present sample consisted of 113 women who were affiliated with formal eating disorder organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region. Inclusion in this study was based on self-identification of current involvement with Bulimia and participation was voluntary.

A self-administered questionnaire was developed to test the three major hypotheses. This survey included the Binge Scale for measuring binge-eating severity, Beck Depression Inventory for assessing depression levels, Self-Consciousness Scale for measuring degree of self-consciousness and a section regarding demographic variables. In addition, the survey contained a set of items designed to elicit information about purging behaviors. The data was analyzed using Chi-Square, V Analysis of Variance, Analysis of Co-Variance, Correlational Analysis and Discriminant Analysis.

The specific hypotheses of this study were as follows: 1) the present sample of women would resemble the bulimic profile, 2) differences would exist between Bingers and Binger/ Purgers, and 3) differences would exist within the Binge/ Purge subgroup. Predictions of similarity were supported between participants of the current study and the typical bulimic portrayed in the literature. This finding provided further evidence for the existence of the Bulimic Syndrome as a distinct entity on the eating disorders spectrum. Predictions of differences were also supported between the Binge and Binge/Purge groups on behavioral, psychological and social dimensions. However, it appeared that these individuals did not constitute totally divergent groups, but rather represented qualitative differences along the Bulimia continuum. Unlike the first two hypotheses, predictions of differences within the Binge/Purge group were not found. Failure to find significant variation within this population was attributed to the lack of standardization of the purging items and a tendency for bulimics to underreport their vomiting behaviors.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Bulimia -- United States
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