Consumed by the fear of eating

Anorexia nervosa - the relentless pursuit of thinness - can be deadly and yet its cause is little understood

When Ms Marya Hornbacher was 15 years old, she went to an arts boarding school in north-west Michigan, where the non-academic preoccupation of the boarders was to lose weight.

Ms Hornbacher soon became anorexic and spent the next several years cycling in and out of hospitals. Upon each admission, she would contrive to smuggle in laxative tablets (a favourite means of anorexics to lose weight through purging) by secreting them in her shoes. All these were chronicled in her book Wasted: A Memoir Of Anorexia And Bulimia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Consumed by the fear of eating'. Subscribe