Does Perfectionism Change After Recovery?

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
March/April 2007 Volume 18, Number 2
©2007 Gürze Books

Perfectionism is one of the most common personality traits associated with eating disorders. Some have suggested that this trait plays a crucial role both in the development of and maintenance of eating disorders. But, what happens to perfectionism after the patient recovers from an eating disorder? Dr. Ceri Jones and colleagues at the University of Birmingham and Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospitals, Birmingham, United Kingdom, studied perfectionism among 66 women with a current eating disorder, 29 women who reported they had recovered from an eating disorder, and 50 female undergraduate students (controls). All three groups completed the Eating Disorders Inventory. A combination of a relatively high perfectionism scores and relative low scores on ineffectiveness, interpersonal distrust, and interoceptive awareness differentiated recovered women from women who currently had eating disorders and the control group. The group’s findings indicate that perfectionism is a persistent trait present in persons with eating disorders, regardless of remission of symptoms. According to the authors, their study results also underscore the relative importance of perfectionism compared to other ego dysfunction characteristics in women who have recovered from an eating disorder.

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