Parent-adolescent attachment and disordered eating : a nonclinical sample.
A wide body of research has investigated the possible pathogenic role of the family in the development of eating disorders. Within the context of the research which places family dynamics at the centre of psychopathology, little research attention has been given to the relationship between parent-adolescent attachment and eating disorders. There is currently no existing South African research in this area. This study aims to redress this balance by exploring the relationship between parental attachment (as measured by the Parental Attachment Questionnaire) and disordered eating (as measured by the Eating Disorders Inventory) among white female adolescents. The sample comprised 209 white female learners from a former 'model C' school in the Durban area. It was found that highly significant negative correlations existed between most of the subscales of the PAQ and EDI. Overall, canonical analysis revealed a significant relationship between parent-adolescent attachment and disordered eating. The relationship between the variables of attachment and disordered eating was very similar regardless of whether the two subscales of the PAQ (Affective Quality of Attachment and Parental Role in Providing Emotional Support) were combined or not. It was found that those adolescents who described their parental relationships as affectively positive and emotionally supportive and viewed their parents as supporting their independence, also described themselves as experiencing low levels of weight preoccupation, low levels of bulimic behaviour and interpersonal distrust, and high levels of personal effectiveness and interoceptive awareness. The above results are discussed in the light of the relevant available literature and research. The methodological and conceptual limitations of the study are explored and provide a basis for recommending possible future research.