Public Defence: Selma Øverland Lie

MA Selma Øverland Lie at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “History of bullying, abuse, and other stressful life events in individuals with eating disorders” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Line Wisting

Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor David Clinton, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Second opponent: Professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala, Vanha Vaasa Hospital, Finland
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Associate Professor Pål Zeiner, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Unn Kristin Hansen Haukvik, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Senior Researcher Lasse Bang, Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Bullying and other stressful life events can negatively impact mental health and increase risk for a range of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders (EDs). This thesis explored history of such events in individuals with and without EDs.

An initial systematic review and meta-analysis showed an association between bullying and EDs, with particularly consistent findings for binge-eating types of EDs. To further explore this, a case-control study of 916 individuals with and without a lifetime history of EDs was conducted using self-report measures of bullying and other stressful life events (e.g., sexual assault, emotional abuse, and bereavement). ED subtypes were explored separately to investigate differences between the ED diagnoses.

As hypothesised, exposure to different types of bullying was significantly more common in individuals with EDs (32%) than controls (19%). Subtype analyses showed that this was due to individuals with binge-eating/purging EDs experiencing more bullying than controls. The same was found for other stressful events, with the ED group reporting more stressful events (81%) than controls (65%). Specifically, experiences of rape, other sexual assault, and emotional abuse were significantly more common in binge-eating/purging EDs.

The pattern of results for both bullying and other types of stressful life events shows that these experiences are common among individuals with EDs, particularly binge-eating/purging subtypes. Further studies are needed to establish the nature of these associations, but we highlight the importance of considering a variety of past experiences in risk assessment and treatment for different EDs.

Additional information

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Published Sep. 9, 2022 1:22 PM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2022 1:46 PM