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Legume anorexia

February 26, 2007

The quote below is take from a delightful satire which sees childhood as a syndrome worthy of inclusion in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, or DSM-IV, of the American Psychiatric Association (1990)”.

Billy J., age 8, was brought to treatment by his parents. Billy’s affliction was painfully obvious. He stood only 4’3″ high and weighed a scant 70 lbs., despite the fact that he ate voraciously. Billy presented a variety of troubling symptoms. His voice was noticeably high for a man. He displayed legume anorexia, and, according to his parents, often refused to bathe. His intellectual functioning was also below normal — he had little general knowledge and could barely write a structured sentence. Social skills were also deficient. He often spoke inappropriately and exhibited “whining behaviour.” His sexual experience was non-existent. Indeed, Billy considered women “icky.” His parents reported that his condition had been present from birth, improving gradually after he was placed in a school at age 5. The diagnosis was “primary childhood.” After years of painstaking treatment, Billy improved gradually. At age 11, his height and weight have increased, his social skills are broader, and he is now functional enough to hold down a “paper route.” (Gumbie & Poke, 1957)

According to the paper the syndrome has the following core features:

  1. Congenital onset
  2. Dwarfism
  3. Emotional liability and immaturity
  4. Knowledge deficits
  5. Legume anorexia

My thanks to Mind Hacks for this, and to Steve Bealing for putting me on to it in the first place. Of course we know that this syndrome can extend into adult practice.

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