Early Life Loss and Trauma: Eating Disorder Onset in a Middle-Aged Male - A Case Study

Lynne McCormack, Vivienne LEWIS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The onset of an eating disorder in middle-age men is poorly researched as are eating disorders in men generally. Therefore, life events that influence eating disorders in men, including delayed onset of an eating disorder remains unknown. Given the limited understanding of males with eating disorders and limited access to large samples of men with eating disorders, an in-depth analysis of a single case of a male in middle age with an eating disorder was chosen to gain insight and understanding into this phenomenon. A Life History approach explored the case of Joseph (pseudonym), who was diagnosed at age 44 years with an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Data were collected through (a) life course open-ended questioning through interviews, (b) written statements, and (c) comments on transcripts. Three themes emerged, loss and unworthiness, becoming bigger, and wanting to change reflecting eating behaviors associated with attachment disruption, loss and trauma, body dissatisfaction, and negative affect. Later in life, an emotional “tipping point” precipitated an eating disorder. Results indicate traumatic loss leading to early attachment disruption as influential in Joseph’s delayed onset of an eating disorder. The value of thorough narrative life histories during therapy when eating disorders occur late in life is discussed as well as the significance for men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-136
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Men's Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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