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Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Dec;28(4):476-80.

"Spiritual starvation?": a case series concerning christianity and eating disorders.

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Eating Disorder Unit, Department of Psychiatry, St. George's Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom.



We describe the cases of four patients with eating disorders in whom complex interactions occurred among religious faith, pathogenesis of the eating disorder, and clinical management.


In some of the cases, religious beliefs seemed to provide a containment of maladaptive behaviors, partly through prayer and through a sense of belonging to the religious community. In other cases, it proved difficult to separate the concept of a punitive God from the illness process.


The cases are discussed with reference to a limited empirical literature. Similarities are noted between some religious institutions and eating disorder treatment regimes. This paper explores management issues, including the use of pastoral counseling and the ethics of addressing religious beliefs in therapy. We note the benefits of a rapprochement between psychiatry and religion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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