Skip to main content

Homogamy: the Relationships and Sexual Partners of Normal-Weight Bulimic Women

  • J. Hubert Lacey (a1)

This study reports the demography, weight, and alcohol and psychiatric histories of the sexual partners of 112 consecutive patients with bulimia nervosa, all from an urban catchment area. Seventy-three patients (65%) had a current sexual partner. The partners were of similar social background, but slightly older. On average, partners were overweight (110% of MMPW) and over 27% reported having an eating or weight problem. A quarter of the partners had been treated for a psychiatric or emotional disorder. Nearly 40% drank more than 36 units of alcohol a week, and 14% had received treatment or consulted a doctor for alcohol-related problems. Heavy-drinking partners and multi-impulsive bulimics sought out each other. A quarter of partners had themselves been raised in a nuclear family in which a member had received psychiatric treatment; 12% had had a mother or sister with an eating disorder. Thirty-seven per cent of patients used a ‘safe man’, their fear of being hurt stemming from low self-esteem and a general sense of ‘failure’, and for 11% the relationship was abusive.

Hide All
American Psychiatric Association (1987) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edn, revised) (DSM–III–R). Washington, DC: APA.
Crisp, A. H. (1970) Anorexia nervosa: feeding disorder, nervous malnutrition or weight phobia. World Review of Nutrition and Diet, 12, 452504.
Crisp, A. H. (1980) Anorexia Nervosa: Let Me Be. London: Academic Press.
Dally, P. (1969) Anorexia Nervosa. London: William Heinemann.
Fairburn, C. G. & Cooper, P. J. (1984) The clinical features of bulimia nervosa. British Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 238246.
Garner, D. M., Garfinkel, P. E. & O'Shaughnessy, M. (1985) Validity of the distinction between bulimia with and without anorexia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 581587.
Hafner, R. J. (1986) Marriage and Mental Illness – A Sex Role's Perspective. New York: Guilford Press.
Kemsley, W. F. F. (1952) Body weight at different ages and heights. Annals of Eugenics, 16, 316334.
Lacey, J. H. (1982) The bulimic syndrome at normal body-weight: reflections on pathogenesis and clinical features. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2, 5966.
Lacey, J. H. (1983) Bulimia nervosa, binge-eating and psychogenic vomiting: a controlled treatment study and long-term outcome. British Medical Journal, 286, 16091631.
Lacey, J. H. (1984) Time-limited, individual and group treatment for bulimia. In Handbook of Psychotherapy for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia (eds D. M. Garner & P. E. Garfinkel). New York: Guilford Press.
Lacey, J. H. (1986) An integrated behavioural and psychodynamic approach to the treatment of bulimia. British Review of Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa, 1, 1926.
Lacey, J. H. (1990) Incest, incestuous fantasy and indecency: a clinical catchment area study of normal-weight bulimic women. British Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 399403.
Lacey, J. H. (1992) The treatment demand for bulimia: a catchment area report of referral rates and demography. Psychiatric Bulletin, 16, 203205.
Lacey, J. H., Coker, S. & Birtchnell, S. A. (1986) Bulimia: factors associated with etiology and maintenance. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 5, 475487.
Lacey, J. H., & Evans, C. D. H. (1986) The impulsivist: a multi-impulsive personality disorder. British Journal of Addiction, 81, 715723.
Merikangas, K. R. (1982) Assortative mating for psychiatric disorders and psychological traits. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39, 11731180.
Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1982) Census, 1981: Sex, Age and Marital Status (CEN 81. SAM). London: HMSO.
Russell, G. F. M. (1979) Bulimia nervosa: an ominous variant of anorexia nervosa. Psychological Medicine, 9, 429448.
Van den Broucke, S. & Vandereycken, W. (1989) The marital relationship of patients with an eating disorder: a questionnaire study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 8, 541556.
World Health Organization (1978) Mental Disorders: Glossary and Guide to their Classification in Accordance with the Ninth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD–9). Geneva: WHO.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Homogamy: the Relationships and Sexual Partners of Normal-Weight Bulimic Women

  • J. Hubert Lacey (a1)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *