The History of Anorexia Nervosa: A Timeline

1684 - Anorexia nervosa was described for the first time.

1689 - English physician Richard Morton describes in his Phtisiologia: a Treatise on Consumption, two accounts of a wasting disease of nervous origins. This could be seen as the first clear medical description of anorexia nervosa (Gordon 2000).

1868 - English physician, Sir William Gull (1816-1890), published his text Anorexia Hysterica. Gull coined the term anorexia nervosa in order to distinguish the disorder from the overall term ‘hysteria’. Gull emphasized the physiological causes of the illness, the need to restore weight, and the role played by family.

1870 – Anorexia became identified and described with its own diagnosis. The identification of the disease was not only related to the new way to look at medicine, but also an effect of societal changes and on the new ‘ideal’ for young women.

(Image by: Janine)

Early 1970s - American media began to write about Anorexia Nervosa.

1974 - Stories in American media began to emerge about how young women refused to eat, but there was no real explanation within these stories about how serious this illness could be.

1978 - After almost three decades of clinical experiences of anorexia nervosa, the psychologist Hilde Bruch published a book about the disease called The Golden Cage. The book is based on numerous cases of the illness, where mostly young women's testimonials are included. During the time of the books publication, Bruch claimed that the disease was so common that it had become a big problem in most American colleges and universities.

1984 - During the American TV show Saturday night live, the host began to joke about the disease and showed a proposal of what an anorectic cookbook could look like. Thankfully today, many have realised how serious the disease and its effects are. Anorexia nervosa continued to rapidly increase and became known as the ‘disorder of the 80s.’

Mid 1980s – Educational institutes began counselling and support systems for the illness. Public awareness further reached a peak when popular singer Karen Carpenter, who suffered with anorexia, died of a cardiac arrest.

(Image by: Movie-Fan)
Karen Carpenter

1989 – The UK based Anorexia Family Aid and Anorexic Aid merge, forming the Eating Disorders Association (EDA). The EDA became the UK’s first national organisation devoted to eating disorders.

Late 1990s - Although Anorexia Nervosa has long been well known by psychologists and medical professionals, it wasn’t until the late twentieth century that the general public first got to know about the disease and its true nature.

2001 – The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) is formed. Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention (EDAP) joined with the American Anorexia Bulimia Association (AABA) to create the largest and longest standing eating disorders prevention and advocacy organizations in the world.

2002 - Groundbreaking research from the USA supports the theory that anorexia is more than a psychosocial illness, showing genes are likely to be responsible too.

2005 – The UK’s first NHS hostel for people with eating disorders, Denbridge House, is opened in Bromley.

2007 - The Eating Disorders Association (EDA) rebrands as Beat.

2007 - The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence release figures that suggest 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. 11% of these sufferers are male.

2008 Anorexia and Bulimia Care reports the UK has the highest rate of eating disorders in Europe.

2009 - Beat Cymru is funded by the Big Lottery Fund to create support services for people in Wales.

2010The NHS Information Centre raises concern about the increasing number of young people developing eating disorders, claiming one in three hospital stays for such illnesses are among children.

2011Research from California sheds light on the role of genetics in why some people suffering with an eating disorder, such as chronic cases, have poor recovery outcomes. 

(Video by: columbinenosis)

For further information on the above information, please see the links to resources below. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! I was looking for a timeline about anorexia nervosa due to my curiosity. ^.^


What do you think? Please leave a comment.