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Homosexuality and Anorexia Nervosa: An Explorative Study on Personality Traits

Federico Amianto

Background: The relationship between anorexia nervosa in males and homosexuality is debated. A higher rate of Eating Disorders (EDs) was found in homosexual than in heterosexual men population. Since anorexia nervosa in men relates with a specific personality profile, homosexual men may share personality features with men affected with anorexia nervosa which may represent risk factors for the ED's outburst. Nevertheless, they have never been compared with the same instrument. The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) was widely applied in the study of EDs.

Methods: This study compares personality traits, assessed with the TCI in a group of males with anorexia nervosa (n=21) with two control groups; heterosexual (n=51) and homosexual (n=23). A discriminant analysis was performed.

Results: Men with anorexia nervosa and homosexual controls display a higher harm avoidance and a lower self-directedness compared with heterosexual controls. Men with anorexia nervosa also display a lower reward dependence compared with homosexual controls and a lower cooperativeness compared with both control groups.

Conclusions: A relationship between the personality traits of men with anorexia nervosa and homosexual orientation may exist. Nevertheless, the low reward dependence and the low cooperativeness, which are the most specific characteristics of men with anorexia nervosa, are not linked to the homosexual orientation. Homosexual controls share with men with anorexia nervosa nonspecific personality traits that may indicate a common susceptibility to body's dissatisfaction, depression and stress.

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