University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is one of the main, and one of the most common types of eating disorders among adolescent individuals, especially females. It is characterized by limited eating, increased amounts of physical activity, low self-esteem, and extreme criticism of oneself and one’s body. An individual diagnosed with AN is greatly physically, mentally, and emotionally affected by it. However, an AN diagnosis also has a significant impact on the whole family. In recent years, the family has been incorporated into the treatment of an individual diagnosed with AN, which has shown to be effective in the recovery process and in reducing relapse incidences. Using a family systems framework, I reviewed a little over 20 scholarly peer reviewed articles to further investigate the impact of having a relative diagnosed with AN on the family as a whole. Having an individual with AN was found to have both adverse and positive effects stemming from shifts in family dynamics and relationships. Overall, parents and well-siblings experience physical and psychological distress as their new role of caregiver leads to increased internalizing behaviors, emotional difficulties and exhaustion, feelings of guilt, fear, and frustration. With their new role, well-siblings find themselves constantly conflicted and caught between their ill-sibling and their parents. Some of the positive effects of a diagnosis of AN in a family includes individual personal growth, increased family unity and solidarity, increased empathy, and increased knowledge of eating disorders.
"Anorexia Nervosa and the Family: A Look at Well-Siblings, Parents, and Family Dynamics through a Family Systems Perspective,"
Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 26
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol26/iss1/4