By Joan Jacobs Brumberg, 370 pp, with illus, $9.95, New York, NY, A Plume Book, New American Library, Division of Penguin Books USA, 1989.
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Students of anorexia nervosa and those responsible for treating patients with eating disorders continue to struggle with the question of the cause of this biopsychosocial condition. Perhaps out of frustration and the inherent management difficulties many physicians are quick to embrace the concept of a biologic vulnerability as the organic cause of the disorder. While not dismissing the importance of biologic determinants and the possibility that anorexia nervosa may be a manifestation of an underlying hypothalamic defect, Brumberg builds a convincing case against this simplistic biomedical model. As physicians, we would very much welcome a break-through proving that the unusual eating behaviors of patients with eating disorders are somehow the result of an imbalance, deviance, or abnormality of biological processes. If such were the case, it might be prevented by a vaccine for those with a strong family history of eating disorders or treated with a specific hormone or chemical
COMERCI GD. Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa. Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(2):146. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160020036010