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Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease

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By Brumberg Joan Jacobs. . 366 pages. Harvard University Press; , Cambridge, Massachusetts: , 1988.. $25.00

Ann Intern Med. 1988;109(6):517. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-109-6-517_2
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Anorexia nervosa is a perplexing syndrome whose cause remains unknown. Because prevalence seems to have increased with renewed social pressures for female thinness, and because the disorder seems to preferentially afflict women from higher socioeconomic strata, cultural factors have received much attention. This book, by a historian who specializes in women's development, the family, and the changing historical experience of adolescence, is one of the best studies.

Thoroughly researched and lucidly written, the book covers the roles that abstinence from food have played throughout female history. Starting with the middle ages, when scores of women sainted by the Catholic Church


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