Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Porter, Jim,


Psychology, Clinical.




The relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and the later development of eating disordered symptomatology in 74 women undergoing psychotherapy is examined in this exploratory study. Many of the studies in this area have treated CSA as a dichotomous variable. Others have assessed levels of CSA, but have employed only objective measures of CSA severity. This study assesses the relationship of both objective and subjective levels of CSA severity to the later development of eating disordered symptomatology. Self-report measures were developed and employed to assess (a) the objective severity of the CSA, (b) the subjective severity and impact of the CSA, and (c) subjective impressions of dysfunction within the participant's families of origin. Four measures derived from the Eating Disorder Inventory were employed to assess weight preoccupation. Based on their own reports, the 74 women were grouped according to the presence or absence of a diagnosed eating disorder (ED/non-ED) and/or a history of CSA. Of the 74 women, 50 (67.6%) reported a history of CSA, and 35 (47.3%) reported a diagnosis of eating disordered. The main findings were as follows. The ED women were no more likely than the non-ED women to report a history of CSA. However, among the women who reported a history of CSA, ED symptomatology was related to both objective and subjective measures of CSA severity. Objective CSA severity related directly to the desire to lose weight and to dissatisfaction with one's body size and shape. One measure of subjective CSA severity (subjective distress at the time of the CSA) related directly to both bulimic symptomatology and weight preoccupation. The objective and subjective measures of CSA severity, though closely related, were somewhat differentially predictive of ED symptomatology. The need to assess both subjective and objective CSA severity, implications of the findings regarding the relationship between CSA and eating disordered symptomatology, and the need for further validation of the measures developed for this study, are discussed.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1995 .R875. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 57-07, Section: B, page: 4723. Adviser: Jim Porter. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1995.