S. Sarró Neurosciences and History 2018; 6(1): 28-37
Type of article: REVIEW
S. Sarró Psychiatrist, MD, eating disorders specialist.
Introduction. At a time when most of the Western world was feeling the hardships of war and the tide was turning toward an Allied advantage, an experiment was conducted with conscientious objectors who volunteered to be starved and renourished in a controlled programme.
Development. Intended as preparation for the refeeding of European populations in countries to be liberated, the Minnesota starvation experiment made a crucial contribution to the understanding of eating disorders, mainly anorexia nervosa, shedding light on both the physiological and the mental processes of the disease.
Conclusions. This study examines the immediate and the often disregarded long-term consequences and compares them to non-experimental eating disorders, analysing the common and divergent aspects, suggesting connections with present advances in neuroanatomical and biochemical eating disorders research, and remembering the volunteers who made it possible.
Starvation, anorexia nervosa, eating disorders, World War II, volunteer medical research, medical ethics
Neurosciences and History 2018; 6(1): 28-37
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