Moral dilemmas of bulimics and non-bulimics : a study of voice and self in eating disorders Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/c821gn71k

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  • The central question of this study was to examine the moral orientation and the role of self in subject generated moral dilemmas for information on the developmental and cultural forces contributing to the etiology and maintenance of eating disorders in college women. The research was based on the theories of Carol Gilligan (1982, 1988, 1990). Twelve women identified as bulimic by therapists and twelve women with no eating disorder were administered the BULIT-R and the moral conflict and choice interview. A Guide to Reading Narratives of Moral Conflict and Choice for Self and Moral Voice provided the framework for analyzing the the interviews. Using Chi squares to analyze the data, no significant differences were found between the two groups on presence, predominance, and alignment of the moral voices of care and justice or on relationship framework, although a trend toward the bulimic sample aligning both with the justice and care orientations was noted. The bulimic sample expressed one or more of the vulnerabilities of care and both care and justice significantly more often than the comparison sample. No difference was found for expression of self care, though the quality of self care expressed was different. Subjects from the bulimic sample mentioned self care in conjunction with self-preservation, while subjects in the comparison group mentioned self-care as an ordinary consideration in conflicts. A significant difference was found between the two groups on mention of a problematic relationship with father, with bulimics describing an emotionally distant relationship with father more often. Finally, the quality of the conflicts described by bulimics tended to be more critical to self than those described by the comparison sample. Results were related to what Gilligan (1990) calls the biggest challenge of the adolescent female: how to integrate inclusion of self with inclusion of others. Disturbances in relationships within the family resulted in the women from the bulimic sample having difficulty with this task. Two coping styles were identified: role reversal and hostile avoidant (Salzman, 1990). The relevance of these coping styles to bulimia was discussed. Implications for therapy were reviewed and recommendations were made for future research.
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