Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kevin Meehan

Committee Chair and Members

Kevin Meehan, Chair
Benjamin Saunders


Childhood maltreatment, Complex post traumatic stress disorder, CPTSD, Eating disorders, PTSD Trauma


Eating Disorders (EDs) are serious mental health conditions proposed to be multifactorial in nature. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma history, and childhood maltreatment have been noted as possible predictive factors for their development. Research on complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) in relation to EDs, however, is limited. The present study aimed to assess the relationship between childhood maltreatment and ED psychopathology, in relation to CPTSD symptomatology as defined by the ICD-11. Relationships between ED symptomatology and the trauma responses associated with the stress or “fight-or-flight” response were analyzed. 167 female participants, aged 18-25, who reported having experienced at least one event on the Life- Events Checklist 5 (LEC-5) were recruited through a research program at a northeast urban university, and Prolific, an online research platform. Participants filled out a series of self-report questionnaires: the shortened Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ-SF), The International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ), the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale (EDDS), the Fight Flight Freeze Questionnaire (FFFQ) and the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale (SF-CDS). Childhood trauma was positively correlated with both CPTSD and PTSD symptoms. ED symptoms were not significantly related to childhood trauma scores, apart from small correlations between ED symptoms, emotional abuse, and physical neglect. An indirect relationship between childhood trauma and ED symptoms was mediated by CPTSD symptomatology. ED symptomatology was associated with both the freeze response and codependency. These findings provide support for the relationship between childhood trauma and CPTSD symptoms and highlight the mediational significance of CPTSD symptoms in the relationship between childhood trauma and ED symptomatology.