Autonomy, father's role, and eating disorders: A daughter's perspective

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Autonomy, Eating disorders, Daughter, Father-daughter relationship

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Current research suggests that the beginning of an eating disorder is spurred on by the inability of the adolescent to gain autonomy from her family. While many scholars and researchers have extensively discussed this, much of their focus has been on the mother-daughter relationship. Until recently, very little research has been conducted on autonomy as it pertains to the father-daughter relationship and its impact on a daughter's eating disorder and recovery. The research that does exist is predominately quantitative in nature. This exploratory, retrospective and qualitative study was guided by phenomenology and examined data from ten individual, semi-structured interviews. Women between the ages of 18-30 who have had a diagnosed eating disorder as adolescents where interviewed in order to understand the experiences of their adolescent relationship with their father, its effect on their autonomy, and its potential link to their eating disorder and recovery. The results support previous quantitative research concerning impaired autonomy in adolescents who struggle with an eating disorder. This research was expanded to include and isolate the impact of fathers on their daughter's autonomy and its effect on their eating disorder and recovery. Data analysis revealed that for these participants, the relationship with their father played a role in stymieing their autonomy and had a direct link to their eating disorder and recovery. Implications for clinicians working with this population and their families are discussed, and suggestions for future research are provided.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.