Father-daughter relationship and the severity of eating disorders

N. Horesh, E. Sommerfeld, M. Wolf, E. Zubery, G. Zalsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Mother-daughter relationship was the focus of studies on the development of eating disorders (ED) for many years. This study aimed to examine the association between the father-daughter relationship and ED and depressive symptoms. Methods: Fifty-three women diagnosed with ED were compared to a psychiatric control group (n=. 26) and to healthy participants (n=. 60) regarding their perception of their fathers and the relationship with them. Assessments were done using the Parental Bonding Instrument, the Eating Disorders Questionnaire, the Body Shape Questionnaire, the Eating Attitude Test, and the Beck Depression Inventory as well as narrative-based methods. Results: Fathers' negative attributes were significantly associated with ED and depressive symptom. Two profiles of father-daughter relationship were found, the "caring and benevolent" relationship and the "overprotective and avoidant" one. In the latter, patients displayed significantly higher levels of food-restraint, more concerns about eating and about their body shape and appearance, and higher levels of depression. Discussion: Negative perception of the father's parenting style as well as the quality of the relationship with him are crucial for the understanding of the development and persistence of ED. Therapeutic programs for ED should focus not only on the relationship with the mother but must also address the relationship with the father.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Attachment
  • Depression
  • Eating disorder
  • Father
  • Parenting


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