Unholy anorexia

Neuropsychologist-writer  Paul Broks, in Aeon:

‘Medieval mystics starved the body to feed the soul. Understanding this perfectionist mindset could help treat anorexia today…

I am prepared to speculate that disgust will eventually prove crucial to understanding the anorectic mindset, medieval and modern. …With eating behaviour at its evolutionary root, physical disgust elaborates biologically and culturally to shape mental attitudes towards the body of a kind that, in vulnerable individuals, sets body and mind in conflict. The holy anorexics’ quest was spiritual purity, whereas their present-day counterparts are driven by a warped notion of physical perfection. But in both its medieval and modern forms, anorexia is a self-destructive expression of ‘mind over matter’, a way of asserting mental over physical selfhood. Self-loathing and shame, derivatives of disgust, are the main drivers….’

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