[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 20, 1973

Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Person Within

Author Affiliations

Mayo Graduate School of Medicine Rochester, Minn

JAMA. 1973;225(8):997. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220360051028

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


"No human society... deals rationally with food," says Dr. Hilde Bruch. For nearly 40 years she has studied two manifestations of this irrationality—anorexia nervosa and obesity—and the present volume summarizes her experience. It is an excellent summary, reflecting the author's appreciation of current biological thinking, her refreshingly eclectic approach to psychodynamic theory, and her mature understanding of the uniqueness of "the person within."

Neither obesity nor anorexia is a uniform entity. Dr. Bruch emphasizes this fact, yet she appreciates the many similarities in the underlying problems, similarities that may lead to inappropriate patterns of eating. She advances the hypothesis "that obesity and anorexia nervosa are related to faulty hunger awareness; that `hunger' is not innate knowledge; learning is necessary for its organization into recognizable patterns." Certainly, recent studies in obesity support such a hypothesis.

The problem then becomes: How can people who have not learned to recognize physiological signals of