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J R Soc Med. 1990 September; 83(9): 581–585.
PMCID: PMC1292821

Goethe's Ottilie: an early 19th century description of anorexia nervosa.


The view that the prevalence of anorexia nervosa is influenced by social attitudes and customs is a popular one. Unfortunately the scarcity of medical accounts prior to the later decades of the last century make it difficult if not impossible to estimate the prevalence of anorexia nervosa at various periods in history. The authors present the history of one of Goethe's literary heroines and suggest that similar studies could throw some light on the epidemiology of anorexia nervosa in the past.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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  • Russell G. The present status of anorexia nervosa. Psychol Med. 1977 Aug;7(3):363–367. [PubMed]
  • Morgan HG. Fasting girls and our attitudes to them. Br Med J. 1977 Dec 24;2(6103):1652–1655. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Silverman JA. Richard Morton, 1637-1698. Limner of anorexia nervosa: his life and times. A tercentenary essay. JAMA. 1983 Nov 25;250(20):2830–2832. [PubMed]
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  • NEMIAH JC. Anorexia nervosa: fact and theory. Am J Dig Dis. 1958 Apr;3(4):249–274. [PubMed]

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