Trauma and multi-impulsivity in the eating disorders.Eat Behav 2007; 8(1):23-30EB
Multiple impulsive behaviours are common in the eating disorders, and multi-impulsive patients appear to do more poorly in treatment. However, comparatively little is known about the origins of multi-impulsivity in such cases. This study addresses the links between reported childhood trauma and multi-impulsivity in the eating disorders, examining whether specific types of trauma are predictive of specific impulsive behaviours in this population.
The sample consisted of 102 individuals who met strict criteria for an eating disorder, and who were interviewed regarding trauma history and comorbid impulsive behaviours.
Any reported history of childhood trauma was associated with a higher number of impulsive behaviours and with the presence of multi-impulsivity. Childhood sexual abuse was particularly important, and was associated with self-cutting, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse (amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis and 'other substances', including ketamine and benzodiazepines).
These findings indicate the importance of considering the psychological consequences of trauma during both assessment and treatment of the eating disorders. In particular, eating-disordered women who report a history of childhood sexual abuse should be examined for a pattern of comorbid impulsive behaviours.