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The Personality Characteristics of a Bulimic

written by: Suzanne Florin • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/20/2011

Bulimics may appear quite "normal" and able to cope up with life, but inside they are insecure, lack confidence and are vulnerable. Those who suffer from this eating disorder may also be moody and secretive.

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    Bulimics appear quite well-adjusted and composed from the outside, but their struggles are hidden from the rest of the world. In fact, it takes a lot of investigation before you discover that someone you know is suffering from bulimia. Unlike other eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia does not stare you in the face. By going about their usual routines when around other people, nobody has the faintest idea that something is going on in the mind of bulimics. People with bulimia still manage to be part of the social circle, even at events where food is present.

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    Lack of Control

    A team of psychologists from Columbia University made a study of bulimic personality traits by comparing the results of a performance test by 20 bulimics and 20 people who were not suffering from any kind of eating disorder. They concluded that those with bulimia were more impulsive and made more errors in performing certain tasks. They corresponded these differences with brain activity and found that bulimics had deficiencies in activation of the left and right side of the brain which accounted for their impulsiveness. Furthermore, the scientists concluded that bulimics failed to activate frontostriatal circuits in several parts of the brain to the same degree as the healthy control subjects; these circuits contribute to self-regulatory control. This lack of control results in bulimics being emotionally over expressive and more dramatic than others.

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    Secretive and Seeking Novelty in Life

    Bulimics encounter feelings of shame, guilt and even disgust towards themselves because of their unusual routine after meals, yet they act perfectly fine to protect their self-image. Their struggles to appear well-adjusted and composed makes the bulimic personality quite a secretive one.

    In addition, according to the psychiatrists at Center for Growth, Inc, a therapy center at Philadelphia, bulimics frequently look for novelty in their life. They are bored easily and have little tolerance of mundane activities. Bulimics binge as a way to get rid of boredom and to receive immediate gratification.

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    Low Self-Esteem

    Bulimics have a strong desire to be accepted by their peers. This need for acceptance makes them high reward dependent; they only feel useful and important if people need them and seek their help. Because of this desire to be regarded as important, they tend to become sensitive to the needs of others, compassionate, kind and generous. The downside of these bulimic personality traits is that when mixed with low self-esteem bulimics can be prone to peer pressure.

    Although bulimics may appear properly nourished and hardly emaciated, they are going through intense psychological struggles.

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    Resources

    Blinder, Barton, MD, "Personality Traits of a Bulimic" http://www.videojug.com/interview/symptoms-of-bulimia-2#what-are-some-of-the-personality-traits-of-a-bulimic

    Marsh, Rachel, Ph.D, et.al, "Deficient Activity in the Neural Systems That Mediate Self-regulatory Control in Bulimia Nervosa" (Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 66 No. 1, January 2009)

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