Developmental Approaches to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Eating Disorders

Julia Huemer, Rebecca E. Hall and Hans Steiner

in The Oxford Handbook of Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders: Developmental Perspectives

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199744459
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Developmental Approaches to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are significant disorders of adolescence and young adulthood. They are truly psychosomatic in character, presenting with complex mixtures of somatic and psychiatric symptoms. We propose that the most useful model for empirical study and clinical practice targeting them is based on developmental psychiatry. In contradistinction to the descriptive model, developmentally based approaches can accommodate both continuity and discontinuity between pathology and normality, complexity of mental states and clinical presentation, and social and temporal context as determinants of psychopathology. The model conceptualizes etiology along multiple layers of accumulating risk and protective factors that—once a critical level of accumulation is reached—result in full-blown syndromal disorders. We outline the implications of this model for diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; developmental psychiatry; risk and protective factors; vulnerability; resilience

Article.  12353 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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