Perfectionism and Eating Disorders

Abstract

Perfectionism and eating disorders have long been associated with each other in theoretical perspectives, but only recently has evidence emerged that informs us of the nature of the relationship between the two. The prominent theories that link perfectionism and eating disorders are reviewed, including the other types of traits that may increase the influence of perfectionism on the development of eating disorders. Cross-sectional associations are summarised, showing an association of two types of perfectionism with eating disorders: wanting to achieve high personal standards (PS) and the degree of concern and self-criticism generated when it is perceived that standards are not met. The body of research examining causal relationships between perfectionism and eating disorders (longitudinal, studies of people recovered from eating disorders, experimental and prevention and treatment studies) is also reviewed, supporting the role of perfectionism in increasing development of disordered eating. However, the mechanisms of action are likely to be complex. We need to develop a better understanding of how perfectionism may increase risk for the development of an eating disorder, and of the comparative importance of modifying perfectionism in both prevention and treatment of eating disorders compared to other risk and maintenance factors.

Keywords

Eating disorders Perfectionism Personal standards Concern over mistakes Prevention Anorexia nervosa 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Child HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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