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August 1967

Obesity, Affect, and Therapeutic Starvation

Author Affiliations

From the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):227-233. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260099014

STUDIES AIMED at understanding the etiologic factors in hyperphagia and obesity fall into two major categories. One group includes many efforts to uncover a brain lesion, metabolic abnormality, or genetic variable which predisposes to corpulence. The second major group of investigations attempt to link obesity with emotional factors.

Among the psychological studies, a number of attempts have focused on emotional constellations which might have specific connections with obesity. One such association which has remained prominent in medical and psychiatric thinking has been that of obesity and depression.1-3 Obesity has been considered a defense against depression4 or a reaction to the specific mood of depression,5-7 and hyperphagia has been called a "depressive alibi."8

In recent years, this relationship between obesity and depression has come under greater scrutiny, partly because of the dilemma that it presents to the

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