Attachment insecurity, mentalization and their relation to symptoms in eating disorder patients

G.S. Kuipers, Z. van Loenhout, L.A. van der Ark, M.H.J. Bekker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the relationships of attachment security and mentalization with core and co-morbid symptoms in eating disorder patients.
We compared 51 eating disorder patients at the start of intensive treatment and 20 healthy controls on attachment, mentalization, eating disorder symptoms, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, psycho-neuroticism, autonomy problems and self-injurious behavior, using the Adult Attachment Interview, the SCID-I and II and several questionnaires.
Compared with the controls, the eating disorder patients showed a higher prevalence of insecure attachment; eating disorder patients more often than controls received the AAI classification Unresolved for loss or abuse. They also had a lower level of mentalization and more autonomy problems. In the patient group eating disorder symptoms, depression, anxiety, psycho-neuroticism and autonomy problems were neither related to attachment security nor to mentalization; self-injurious behavior was associated with lesser attachment security and lower mentalization; borderline personality disorder was related to lower mentalization. In the control group no relations were found between attachment, mentalization and psychopathologic variables.
Eating disorder patients’ low level of mentalization suggests the usefulness of Mentalization Based Treatment techniques for eating disorder treatment, especially in case of self-injurious behavior and/or co-morbid borderline personality disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-272
JournalAttachment & Human Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Attachment insecurity, mentalization and their relation to symptoms in eating disorder patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this