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Case Reports in Psychiatry
Volume 2014, Article ID 512764, 4 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/512764
Case Report

A Case Study of Anorexia Nervosa Driven by Religious Sacrifice

University of Florida, 4037 NW 86 Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32606, USA

Received 7 March 2014; Accepted 23 June 2014; Published 6 July 2014

Academic Editor: Jeronimo Saiz-Ruiz

Copyright © 2014 Amelia A. Davis and Mathew Nguyen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is considered a relatively “modern” disorder; however, a number of scholarly works have cited examples of voluntary self-starvation dating back to several centuries. In particular, there are many examples of female starvation for religious reasons during the medieval period, with many being elevated to sainthood. We present a case of an elderly woman with AN who began restricting her diet when she was 13-years old while studying to be a nun at a Catholic convent. She reports that, during the development of her disease, she had no mirrors and, rather than restricting her diet to be thin or attractive, she restricted her diet to be closer to God in hopes of becoming a Saint. This unique case presents an opportunity to deepen our understanding of AN and the cultural context that affects its development.