A life history analysis of a male athlete with an eating disorder

Anthony Papathomas, David Lavallee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


An exploratory investigation, employing the life history method, was conducted with a male athlete with an eating disorder. The focus of the life history is Mike (pseudonym), an individual with a strong athletic identity, who developed bulimia amidst aspirations to be an elite sports performer. Interviews were structured around the life course, beginning with early childhood memories and ultimately reaching the present day. His narrative suggests the achievement threats and weight-based performance pressures associated with competitive sport played a role in precipitating the onset of bulimia nervosa. When such performance pressures were removed the eating disorder remained and evolved, suggesting that disordered eating in sport can have deeper roots as opposed to being primarily situational. Recovery coincided with the cessation of sport participation and the opening up of a foreclosed identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-179
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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