History of Anorexia Nervosa

The history of anorexia nervosa begins with descriptions of religious fasting dating from the Hellenistic era and continuing into the medieval period. A number of well known historical figures, including Catherine of Siena and Mary, Queen of Scots are believed to have suffered from the condition.

The earliest medical descriptions of anorexic illnesses are generally credited to English physician Richard Morton, in 1689.

However it was not until the late 19th century that anorexia nervosa was to be widely accepted by the medical profession as a recognized condition. In 1873, Sir William Gull, one of Queen Victoria’s personal physicians, published a seminal paper which established the term anorexia nervosa and provided a number of detailed case descriptions and treatments. In the same year, French physician Ernest-Charles Lasègue similarly published details of a number of cases in a paper entitled De l’Anorexie Histerique.

Awareness of the condition was largely limited to the medical profession until the latter part of the 20th century, when German-American psychoanalyst Hilde Bruch published her popular work The Golden Cage: the Enigma of Anorexia Nervosa in 1978. This book created a wider awareness of anorexia nervosa among lay readers. A further important event was the death of the popular singer Karen Carpenter in 1983, which prompted widespread ongoing media coverage of eating disorders.

Read more about History Of Anorexia Nervosa:  Etymology, Recent History

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