Dissociation, abuse and the eating disorders: Evidence from an Australian population

Lisa Brown*, Janice Russell, Christopher Thornton, Stewart Dunn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: A number of European and Northern American studies have investigated a possible association between dissociative phenomena, eating disorders, child sexual abuse and self-mutilation. However, there has been little confirmation from other countries and cultures, and the Australian experience of these interrelationships has not previously been studied. Method: Dissociative symptomatology and self-reported history of abusive experiences, physical and sexual, were retrospectively studied in a sample of Australian eating disordered patients using a self-report measure, the Dissociation Questionnaire (DIS-Q). Results: As hypothesised, dissociative symptoms were particularly frequent in those who reported child and adult sexual abuse and in those who self-mutilated. A correlation between multiple forms of abuse and higher dissociation scores was only partially upheld. Conclusions: Interrelationships between victimisation and dissociation are discussed within the context of current knowledge in the field, and brief suggestions for therapeutic strategies are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Child sexual abuse
  • Dissociation
  • Eating disorders


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