Narrative Matters: Wasting away and fed up – dietary battles in history

featured ACAMH papers
Bringing you some selected Open Access journal papers from our portfolio; The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (JCPP), Child and Adolescent Mental Health journal (CAMH), and JCPP Advances.

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‘Narrative Matters: Wasting away and fed up – dietary battles in history’

Paper from the CAMH journal

Histories of anorexia nervosa (AN), mostly written since the 1970s, have a standard narrative. The story is of largely Eurocentric self-starvation in adolescent girls in response to sociocultural pressures on women who are trapped in disempowering patriarchal systems. These could be religious, for example, the fasting nuns of the later mediaeval and early modern periods. Their piety-motivated food refusal was part of a wider pattern of self-denial and body mortification on a pathway to beatification (Brumberg, 1988/2000). For the Catholic Church, these women were disconcertingly undermining of masculine, clerical authority and were soon accused of making a spectacle of themselves. 

Authors: Jane Whittaker

First published: 28 October 2023

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