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See Inside June/July 2008

Addicted to Starvation: The Neurological Roots of Anorexia

Anorexia may represent a profound psychiatric disorder that spawns an addiction to deprivation

A recent tabloid captured the common wisdom about anorexia nervosa. In an interview, actor Christina Ricci blamed the pressures of success for her prior struggle with the disease. The headline flashed, “Ricci: Hollywood made me anorexic.”

But did it? True, anorexia is characterized by compulsive dieting or exercise to get thin. And the pursuit of thinness in contemporary culture—particularly in Hollywood—has become a seemingly contagious obsession. Yet there is thin, and then there is emaciated. Crossing over that line means a loss of a basic survival instinct—to eat in response to hunger—that culture should not be able to touch.

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