A radical loss of weight to the point of emaciation moves the observer. He reasons that there must be illness. When he learns as the result of his investigations that there is no evidence of any physical disease but that the cachexia is self-induced, curiosity is added to concern.
In instances where the condition is assumed to be functionally determined, it is given the name of anorexia nervosa, and thus, by implication, it is elevated to the ranks of a disease. The illness is relatively rare although many reports and investigations have been published. It is an ancient disease, soon to celebrate its 300th birthday, if Richard Morton (1689) is credited with the publication of the first medical account of what he termed "a nervous consumption." The 300 years show a cyclic preoccupation with this vexing condition of chronic self-starvation. Every 20 or 30 years the topic emerges in the