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Somatic, Psychic, Psychosomatic: The Medicine of Troubled Appetite

Somatic, Psychic, Psychosomatic: The Medicine of Troubled Appetite

Chapter:
(p.241) Twelve Somatic, Psychic, Psychosomatic: The Medicine of Troubled Appetite
Source:
Appetite and Its Discontents
Author(s):
Elizabeth A. Williams
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226693187.003.0017

Chapter 12 examines investigation of ills of appetite and eating between 1900 and 1950. Around 1900, hopes ran high that the tools of scientific medicine would clarify these ills, but disagreements continued about their origins, nature, and treatment. Somatic remedies included gastric juice therapy, glandular extracts, surgical procedures, and the vitamins newly discovered by biochemists and promoted by nutritionists. Yet physicians associated with emergent holistic medicine criticized physicalist approaches as simplistic and called for recognition of linked psychic and somatic manifestations of illness. Psychosomatic medicine emerged to treat ills of the “whole person” but quickly divided between practitioners chiefly oriented either to physiology or to psychiatry. Taking the lead of Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysts recast anorexia nervosa and other forms of troubled eating as manifestations of disturbed libido, depriving the appetite for food of significance. Obesity was widely attributed to hormonal imbalance, but by 1950 glandular therapies had been discredited and replaced by psychotherapeutic approaches or popular “reducing” programs. Despite continuing perplexity over the origin and nature of disturbed appetite and eating, the industry of appetite control saw rapid growth.

Keywords:   vitamins, gastric juice therapy, glandular extracts, psychosomatic medicine, Sigmund Freud, anorexia nervosa, obesity, appetite control

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