A recent report suggested that compulsive runners share a common set of psychological traits and behavioral dispositions with patients with anorexia nervosa. In an effort to objectively assess the similarity between anorexia nervosa and obligatory running, 43 runners and 24 patients with anorexia nervosa completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Results indicated that the obligatory runners generally scored within the normal range, while the anorectic patients did not. The anorectic patients obtained more pathological scores than the runners on eight of the ten clinical subscales of the MMPI. Fifty percent of the anorectic patients obtained elevations on three or more of the MMPI subscales, while no runners obtained more than two scale elevations. Depression (scale 2) and psychopathy (scale 4) were particularly prevalent in the anorectic group. We conclude that obligatory runners do not suffer from the same degree of psychopathology as do patients with anorexia nervosa.
Blumenthal JA, O'Toole LC, Chang JL. Is Running an Analogue of Anorexia Nervosa?An Empirical Study of Obligatory Running and Anorexia Nervosa. JAMA. 1984;252(4):520-523. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350040050022