Relation of dissociative phenomena to levels of cerebrospinal fluid monoamine metabolites and beta-endorphin in patients with eating disorders: a pilot study.
Dissociation is made manifest by a failure to integrate thoughts, feelings, memories, and actions into a unified sense of consciousness. Although dissociation is presumed to be a special state of consciousness manifested by state-dependent memory and physiology, the psychobiology of dissociation is poorly understood. In this study, we examined cerebrospinal fluid levels of the major monoamine metabolites and beta-endorphin in patients with eating disorders (11 with anorexia nervosa, 16 with bulimia nervosa), while they were acutely ill. Dissociative capacity was measured using the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES). We provide evidence that neurochemical changes in dopaminergic, serotonergic, and opioid systems may be associated with the clinical expression of dissociation in patients with eating disorders during the acute phase of their illness. These preliminary results are compatible with previous studies of neurochemical disturbances in the eating disorders and suggest that future work in dissociation should specifically include examination of these neurobiologic systems.