Asceticism and Meaning Deficit in Women Treated for an Eating Disorder

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The unclear etiology of eating disorders and the increased prevalence of eating disorders among women have warranted further examination of factors associated with these disorders. Research has indicated that asceticism and meaning may play important roles in eating disorder development. It was hypothesized that asceticism, meaning deficit, and ineffectiveness would be positively associated with eating disorder symptoms. Ineffectiveness was expected to partially mediate the relationship between sexual abuse history and eating disorder symptoms. One hundred and fifty inpatient residents were randomly selected by diagnosis from a larger pool of participants from a previous study of women treated for eating disorders and trauma symptoms. Participants' responses on the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire 4 (Fairburn & Bèglin, 1994) and the Drive for Thinness, Ineffectiveness, and Asceticism subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (Garner, 1991) were examined. Results confirmed positive associations between both meaning deficit and asceticism and eating disorder symptoms. These findings support the notion that eating disorders may be influenced by a lack of spiritual meaning.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Abernethy, Alexis D.

Document Type





Eating disorders in women, Eating disorders


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