The Psycho-Sexual Aspects of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa: A Review of the Literature

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Published studies dealing systematically with the psychosexual aspects of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are reviewed. While definitive answers to questions of the relationship between sexuality and the eating disorders are not apparent in the literature, several important trends emerge. On the basis of psychosexual data, there appear to be two discrete groups of anorexia neruosa patients. Several investigations report on significant differences between restricting and bulimic anorexics with respect to psychosexual history and/or sexual behaviors. There are also suggestions in the literature that bulimic patients may be more sexually active than control subjects. Finally, in spite of the continued appearance in the literature of case studies to the contrary, there is apparently no particularly high incidence of sexual abuse among anorexic or bulimic patients. Suggestions for future researchers in this area are offered.

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Clinical Psychology Review, v. 9, issue 2, p. 169-189