In recent years, the spectrum of stress phenomena, ranging from the tragic to the mundane, has received a great deal of attention in the research literature. Research has found that exposure to a broad range of stress phenomena increases the risk for subsequent psychopathology (Kanner, Coyne, Schaefer, & Lazarus, 1981; Lewinsohn, Mermelstein, Alexander & MacPhillamy, 1985). The assumption that stress phenomena vary along a continuum from mild to severe underlies much of this research (Dohrenwend & Dohrenwend, 1978). Trauma has been understood to constitute the class labelled severe, life event stress (LES) the moderate, and daily hassles (DH) the mild. In empirical studies, these classes have thus been assumed to vary in terms of degree (i.e., quantity) rather than in terms of qualitative differences.
In the 1990's the incidence of eating disorders among college aged females had increased (Johnston & Christropher, 1991) with specific concern for female college athletes. A 1992 NCAA study found that 70% of responding institutions reported at least one case of an eating disorder with the highest prevalence in gymnastics, cross country, swimming, and track (Dick, 1993).