As used today, anorexia is an abbreviation of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by severe weight loss mainly brought about by restricting one's intake of food to a level much below that required to maintain body weight that is normal for one's height, age, and sex. Formerly, anorexia meant loss of appetite and was defined as such in nineteenth-century medical dictionaries. It was acknowledged as a symptom of a range of physical illnesses, rather than as constituting an illness in its own right. Anorexia was also observed to occur among the mentally ill, and forced feeding of severely underweight patients was practiced in mental asylums. During the later decades of the nineteenth century, an interest in the classification of mental illnesses developed apace with ...

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