Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

David M. Stein


David M. Stein


The age of onset for eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia nervosa) among females is typically late adolescence. In the present study, it was hypothesized that the onset of eating disorders is related to the late-adolescent developmental task of identity development. Thirty-three late adolescent and young adult females who met DSM-III-R criteria for an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or eating disorder not otherwise specified) and 33 control females completed the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity status -- 2 (EOMEIS-2). Results of chi square analyses revealed no significant differences between eating disorder and control females with regard to status of identity development. However, when identity status subscale scores were treated as continuous variables, several significant between-group mean differences emerged. In line with expectations, eating disorder subjects scored higher on ideological diffusion and moratorium, and they scored lower on ideological achievement. Eating disorder subjects also scored higher on interpersonal diffusion and lower on interpersonal achievement. In addition, there were significant correlations between ideological diffusion and measures of depression and anxiety. Unexpectedly, there were also significant correlations between ideological moratorium and measures of depression, anxiety, social alienation, family discord, and borderline personality symptomatology. The possible implications of these results for understanding frequently occurring, co-morbid symptoms in eating disorder subjects are discussed.



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