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Vol. 36, No. 1, 1981
Issue release date: 1981
Psychother Psychosom 1981;36:8–16

Psychodynamics and Therapeutic Aspects of Anorexia nervosa

A Study of Family Dynamics and Prognosis

Becker H. · Körner P. · Stöffler A.
Psychosomatic Clinic, University of Heidelberg (Director: Prof. Dr. Walter Bräutigam), Heidelberg (FRG)

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38 patients who had suffered from anorexia nervosa were examined and followed up in a catamnestic study, and their biography, family dynamics, eliciting situation and history of illness were studied. The investigation was carried out by means of interviews, questionnaires and personality tests. As to biography and family dynamics, our results are partly complementary and partly contradictory to previously published results of other investigations. Our patients received inpatient psychotherapy over an average period of 3 months and were followed up 2–5 years later. The following prognostic criteria proved to be significant: vomiting as part of the symptoms; chronification (psychotherapy delay), and ability to achieve a constructive therapist/patient alliance. Patients whose weight was largely back to normal by the end of therapy, but were still amenorrhoeic, showed unfavourable development in psychosocial relations. The catamnestic results improved with increasing time lapse between the end of therapy and follow-up investigation.

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