Emotional maltreatment and disordered eating in adolescents: testing the mediating role of emotion regulation.
OBJECTIVE We sought to estimate prevalences of childhood emotional abuse (CEA) in bulimic and normal-eater control groups, and to replicate previous findings linking CEA to severity of eating symptoms in BN. We also examined potential mediators of the link between CEA and disordered eating. METHOD Women diagnosed with a bulimic disorder (n = 176) and normal-eater women (n = 139) were assessed for childhood traumata, eating-disorder (ED) symptoms and psychopathological characteristics (ineffectiveness, perfectionism, depression, and affective instability) thought to be potential mediators of interest. RESULTS CEA was more prevalent in the bulimic than in the nonbulimic group, and predicted severity of some eating-symptom indices. Ineffectiveness and affective instability both mediated relationships between CEA and selected ED symptoms. DISCUSSION We found CEA to predict eating pathology through mediating effects of ineffectiveness and affective instability. CEA might influence severity of ED symptoms by impacting an individual's self-esteem and capacity for affect regulation.