Mothers with eating disorders: The environmental factors affecting eating-related emotional difficulties in their offspring

Shiri Sadeh-Sharvit, Rachel Levy-Shiff, Anca Ram, Eitan Gur, Eynat Zubery, Evelyne Steiner, Yael Latzer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Eating disorders (EDs) have been explained by the Object Relations psychodynamic theory as resulting from maturation fears and separation difficulties in the origin family. The aim of this study was to understand from an Object Relations perspective, how mothers with EDs function with their toddlers, particularly with regard to disordered eating-related behavior. Twenty-nine dyads of mothers with EDs who had toddlers participated in a semi-structured interview, by which the environmental mechanisms of feeding, eating and emotional transactions were uncovered. The interviews revealed that some of the early needs of the mothers with EDs, that were unmet by their own parents, along with exaggerated anxiety about their children’s eating and weight were associated with maternal accounts of EDs contents and practices, markedly with regard to daughters. The mothers’ internal world was found to influence maternal practice in inadequate feeding of their toddlers. The findings imply that children of mothers with EDs should be viewed as potentially the next generation to express emotional difficulties through disrupted eating and body image.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBio-Psycho-Social Contributions to Understanding Eating Disorders
EditorsY. Latzer, D. Stein
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783319327426
ISBN (Print)9783319327402
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


  • Eating disorders
  • Mother child relationship
  • Object relations
  • Transgenerational transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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