Anorexia Nervosa: Personality Traits Can be Genetically Transmitted

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 1999 Volume 10, Number 5
©1999 Gürze Books

Personality traits that can contribute to development of anorexia nervosa (AN) can be inherited, according to results of a study at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh. Kelly Klump, PhD, and colleagues assessed personality characteristics in 28 female probands diagnosed with DSM-III-R AN and their first-degree relatives and 44 non-eating–disordered women, together with 136 of their first-degree relatives. Personality characteristics were evaluated with the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. Compared to the control women, AN probands had significantly elevated achievement, stress reactivity, and negative emotionality scores, and significantly lower well-being and social closeness scores. Similarly, relatives of AN probands also showed elevated stress reactivity and negative affectivity scores, and lower well-being scores compared to relatives of control women. The elevated stress reactivity and the lower well-being scores in relatives of AN probands could not be accounted for by the presence of an eating disorder in these relatives.

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