MMPI-Derived Personality Description and Personality Subtypes in an Undergraduate Bulimic Population

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The present study used the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) to investigate personality characteristics in 38 undergraduate women with significantly elevated scores on the Bulimia Test (Smith & Thelen, 1984), 38 non-eating-disordered women receiving psychotherapy at a university-affiliated clinic, and 37 non-eating-disordered women. A multivariate analysis of variance comparing the three groups on 17 selected scales of the MMPI yielded significant findings. Although none of the groups' means reached clinically significant elevations, post hoc analyses indicated that the bulimic group obtained significantly higher scores on Scales 1, 7, 8, and 9 and significantly lower scores on L and Es than both the clinic comparison and non-eating-disordered comparison groups. The most frequent two-point codes among bulimics were 89/98, 27/72, 48/84, and 69/96. Results suggest that bulimics are anxious, dysphoric, and perfectionistic and have low self-esteem and unusual thoughts. Examination of two-point codes suggests two subgroups of bulimics, a neurotic-depressive subgroup and a character-disordered subgroup. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the etiology and treatment of bulimia.

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