Altered religious practice in patients with eating disorders

M. Anthony Graham, Wendy Spencer, Arnold E. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Alteration in the religious practice of 20 patients hospitalized for treatment of an eating disorder were studied by means of a Religious Attitudes Questionnaire and by psychiatric history. The patients as a group were observant with only one (5%) claiming no religious affiliation. Two‐thirds of the patients who regularly participated in Communion decreased their frequency of reception (p < .01) because of fear of the calories in the Communion elements. Attendance at church or synagogue activities where food was present was significantly decreased (p < .005). In contrast, participation in fasting activities increased. We conclude that (1) religious practice is significantly altered by the presence of an eating disorder requiring hospitalization, (2) the fear of fatness pervades even the existential and spiritual life of eating disorder patients, cutting them off from a potential source of support, structure and comfort, (3) considerations of the religious activity of psychiatric patients are often neglected in history taking and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-243
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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