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The Physiology of Appetite to 1850

The Physiology of Appetite to 1850

(p.90) Five The Physiology of Appetite to 1850
Appetite and Its Discontents
Elizabeth A. Williams
University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 examines developments in the physiology of appetite between 1800 and 1850. These years were marked, externally, by continuing conflicts between the well fed and the hungry as well as the embrace by competing states of “bio-power,” efforts to sustain a healthy population in the pursuit of national goals. In the sciences that examined appetite, contention opened up between physiology and emergent “animal chemistry,” yet efforts were also underway to achieve a unified theory of life encompassing all organic beings. In both endeavors, appetite, eating, and digestion figured importantly. Focusing on the work of leading investigators including François Magendie, William Beaumont, and Johannes Müller, this chapter explores efforts by physiologists to differentiate ingestive desires from physiological need; to determine if appetite was a general or local, psychic or bodily phenomenon; and to assess the relative roles of voluntary choice and innate tendencies in eating patterns. The chapter illuminates the continuing advance of experimental methods -- vagotomy, the hunger study, and observation via gastric fistulas -- that aimed to provide concrete ways to penetrate the obscurities of appetite, ingestion, and digestion.

Keywords:   bio-power, animal chemistry, François Magendie, William Beaumont, Johannes Müller, vagotomy, hunger study, gastric fistula, biopower

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