St. Catherine of Siena (1347–1380 AD): one of the earliest historic cases of altered gustatory perception in anorexia mirabilis
St. Catherine of Siena suffered from an extreme form of holy fasting, a condition classified as anorexia mirabilis (also known as inedia prodigiosa). Historical and medical scholarships alike have drawn a comparison between this primaeval type of anorexia with a relatively common form of eating disorder among young women in the modern world, anorexia nervosa. St. Catherine’s condition was characterised by a disgust for sweet taste, a condition also described in anorexia nervosa, and characterised by specific neurophysiological changes in the brain. St. Catherine’s case may be considered one of the oldest veritable descriptions of altered gustation (dysgeusia). Moreover, a more compelling neurophysiological similarity between anorexia mirabilis and anorexia nervosa may be proposed.
KeywordsHistory of neurology Palaeopathology Anorexia Dysgeusia St. Catherine of Siena
The authors wish to thank the Mäxi Foundation (Switzerland) for supporting this research.
Compliance with ethical standards
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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