What is Anorexia mirabilis?
Anorexia mirabilis was a unique psychological condition which occurred mostly in females from the middle Ages until the beginning of the 19th century, in which the people affected would obtain from food or drink to the point of emaciation and often death for reasons of religious purpose. Anorexia mirabilis almost exclusively occurred in girls and young adult females and was found most frequently between the 13th and 17th centuries. The characteristics of anorexia mirabilis manifested themselves in what was referred to as "prodigious fasting" or more derisively, "holy hysteria." oust of the women who developed anorexia mirabilis claimed that they could subsist on minimal or even zero amounts of food and water because they were sustained by God or because God told them that they should abstain from food or drink or a number of other religious reasons.
The exact causes of anorexia Mirabel’s are unknown. Some psychologists and historians have suggested that the condition occurred due to the intense amounts of pressure put on women or girls in the 13th - 17th centuries to be obedient and subservient. Some psychologists believe that anorexia mirabilis was an expression of their psychological desire for notice or standing in the community, which could be achieved through the appearance of holy intervention or holy fasting. In some cases, psychologists believe that anorexia mirabilis was a manifestation of extreme religious fervor; Angela of Folio and Catherine of Siena were said to refuse food and drink and subsist solely on scabs, lice, and the pus from sores of people they were said to have healed.
Although anorexia mirabilis share some seminaries with modern-day anorexia nervosa, the two conditions have many differences. Anorexia mirabilis is believed to be a psychological condition caused by the pressures of historical society and possibly religious fervor; people with anorexia mirabilis did not eat because they wanted to somehow express and gain notice from the world in a way that was acceptable for women or because they believed that abstaining from food and drink was a religious order or guide from God. People with anorexia nervosa refuse food and sometimes drink because they have an intense fear of gaining weight and of fattening foods. While anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder, anorexia mirabilis was a psychological disorder which manifested itself in religious behavior such as extreme fasting and even other religious behavior such as donning needle shirts, self-mutilation or self-flagellation.
Anorexia mirabilis remained a constant throughout the 13th to the 17th centuries. However, the occurrence of anorexia mirabilis drastically reduced with the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment. Some psychologists believe that anorexia mirabilis became less common because, as people began to look for answers in science and research, the concept of a “miracle faster” gained less attention and therefore, for the women who enveloped the condition as a means of self-expression, less notice. By the 19th century, cases of anorexia mirabilis were extremely rare—the few cases which occurred in the beginning of the 19th century were generally considered hoaxes except by those who maintained that the women were guided by God to starve.