Perfectionism May Cluster in Families

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2003 Volume 13, Number 6
©2002 Gürze Books

Some personality traits, such as perfectionism, and weight and shape concerns, may cluster in families of probands with eating disorders, according to the results of a recent Price Foundation study (Int J Eat Dis 2002;31:290).

Mothers of probands had elevated levels of perfectionism and more concerns about weight and shape than did mothers of controls. Mothers with daughters with eating disorder diagnoses other than restricting AN had elevated levels of perfectionism. Among fathers, the one exception was increased perfectionism reported among fathers of offspring with restricting AN.

According to the authors, perfectionism may be an environmentally transmitted trait, whereby parental perfectionism “flows down” to the next generation. Or, pervasive perfectionism in the offspring could increase perfectionistic tendencies in parents. The third and most likely possibility is that perfectionism could be a genetically mediated personality trait.

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