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The Biology of Human Starvation

The Biology of Human Starvation: Volume II

Ernst Simonson
Angie Sturgeon Skinner
Samuel M. Wells
J. C. Drummond
Russell M. Wilder
Charles Glen King
Robert R. Williams
Copyright Date: 1950
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 632
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  • Book Info
    The Biology of Human Starvation
    Book Description:

    The Biology of Human Starvation was first published in 1950. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. With great areas of the world battling the persistent and basic problem of hunger, this work constitutes a major contribution to needed scientific knowledge. The publication is a definitive treatise on the morphology, biochemistry, physcology, psychology, and medical aspects of calorie undernutrition, cachexia, starvation, and rehabilitation in man. Presented critically and systematically are the fact and theory from the world literature, including the evidence from World War II and the finding of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (1944-1946). Pertinent experiments and field and clinical observations to 1949 are covered. The extensive original research involved was conducted at the University of Minnesota Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, which Dr. Keys heads. The authors, all of the laboratory staff, were assisted in preparation of the work by Ernst Simonson, Samuel Wells and Angie Sturgeon Skinner.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3799-1
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Psychology

    • CHAPTER 36 Psychological Problems in Starvation
      (pp. 767-782)

      In accord with the general historical development of the several branches of biology, psychology has been the last large area of scientific knowledge to be applied to problems of the effects of starvation. Although systematic, controlled studies on the physical aspects of semi-starvation were conspicuously rare, the large number of investigations made during World War II contributed significantly to our knowledge of the biochemistry, physiology, and pathology of prolonged, severe undernutrition. No comparable information exists on the psychological aspects of starvation and dietary rehabilitation. The few psychiatric studies on “natural” starvation that are available are based primarily upon unsystematic personal...

    • CHAPTER 37 Behavior and Complaints in Natural Starvation
      (pp. 783-818)

      Behavior is the expression of the interaction between environment, in the broadest sense, and the individual. In natural (i.e., non-experimental) starvation, adverse conditions in addition to the lack of food generally make up a large part of the total experience, and the resulting behavior has a complex basis. However, starvation or severe undernutrition is such an overwhelming experience that its more specific effects should be discernible even in relatively impure situations, complicated by physical environment, emotional trauma, disease, and physical exhaustion.

      All accounts of famine and severe food shortage touch upon, and often describe at some length, the behavior of...

    • CHAPTER 38 Behavior and Complaints in Experimental Starvation and Rehabilitation
      (pp. 819-853)

      The field reports presented in the preceding chapter described the complaints and behavior of men under conditions of starvation and famine in rather an unsystematic way and without any attempt to measure the magnitude of the changes or to indicate the frequency with which a qualitative characteristic was observed in a given population. Certain symptoms, such as weakness and depression, have been mentioned repeatedly in field reports. The field observations served as a guide for the observers in the Minnesota Experiment during their formal and informal contacts with the subjects. Also, the questionnaires designed to record the reactions of the...

    • CHAPTER 39 Intellective Functions
      (pp. 854-863)

      Roger Bacon is credited with saying that “The brain is in some sort of custody of the stomach and relief of malnutrition gives relief of mental dullness” (J. Wilder, 1944). Feuerbach’s dictum “Der Mensch ist was er isst” (Man is what he eats) may be regarded as another statement of the widely held belief in the intimate connection between man’s physique, including the nutritional condition, and his intellect. This belief is not limited to philosophers. There is a distinct tendency on the part of some individuals professionally concerned with the problems of nutrition to overdramatize the importance of food in...

    • CHAPTER 40 Personality
      (pp. 864-879)

      As far as we are aware, until now no psychometric studies of the effects of prolonged caloric deficiency on personality have been made under either field or experimental conditions. Even in the area of vitamin deficiencies, such as those involving vitamins of the B complex, in which changes in the feeling of well-being and in personality are pronounced (see e.g. Spieset al., 1943), standardized ratings and personality tests have been used only recently (BroŽek, Guetzkow, and Keys, 1946; Hendersonet al., 1947).

      Changes in some of the traits constituting “temperament” were studied in the Minnesota Experiment by means of...

    • CHAPTER 41 Psychological Case Studies
      (pp. 880-904)

      In any severe and prolonged stress situation involving a large group of subjects a certain percentage of frankly psychopathological responses is to be expected. Although many of the subjects in the Minnesota Experiment had periods during which their distress was quite severe and all exhibited symptoms of “semi-starvation neurosis,” there were only six men in whom the deterioration was striking (Schiele and Brožek, 1948). In four subjects (Nos. 234, 235, 232, and 233) the reaction to the semi-starvation regimen took the form of a “character neurosis,” the men being unable to stay on the semi-starvation diet; in two of these...

    • CHAPTER 42 Psychological Effects—Interpretation and Synthesis
      (pp. 905-918)

      Starvation affects the whole organism and its results may be described in the anatomical, biochemical, physiological, and psychological frames of reference. In scientific reports attention has been concentrated generally on the purely physical aspects. On the other hand, the accounts by non-technical observers emphasize the complaints, sensations, and behavior, as well as the superficial appearance, of famine victims. The psychological changes induced by undernutrition, though more difficult to measure, seem to be just as typical as are the physical changes. Field reports are unanimous in registering a set of complaints that characteristically appear early in uncomplicated semi-starvation: feelings of weakness,...

  4. Special Problems

    • CHAPTER 43 The Edema Problem
      (pp. 921-965)

      Since World War I edema has been considered an almost inevitable concomitant of severe undernutrition. It is difficult at this time to realize the extent of speculation and controversy raised in Germany in 1916 and 1917 about the “edema disease” (Ödemkrankheit) which appeared in the German prison camps and then spread to all parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It seems incredible that many of the German investigators did not recognize at once that simple starvation, and not some mysterious infection, was the cause. It was only after many reports from the field that the terms “hunger edema,” “famine edema,”...

    • CHAPTER 44 Anorexia Nervosa and Pituitary Cachexia
      (pp. 966-973)

      It is interesting to compare with both wartime starvation and famine, and the Minnesota Experiment, other types of semi-starvation in which living conditions, except the amount of food, most nearly approach normal. Anorexia nervosa and pituitary cachexia (Simmonds’ disease, cachexia hypophyseopriva) are obviously conditions of great interest in this regard. To these conditions might be added Sheehan’s disease (Sheehan, 1937; Sheehan and Murdoch, 1938), which involves necrosis of the pituitary and therefore has something in common with Simmonds’ disease. To some extent they may be considered together for the present purpose.

      Anorexia nervosa is a loss of the desire for...

    • CHAPTER 45 Growth and Development
      (pp. 974-1001)

      In times of food shortage there is a strong tendency to sacrifice the adults in favor of the children. Similar behavior is exhibited by many animals. The basic instinct to preserve the race or species seems to be involved. In human society also the pregnant and lactating women generally receive special considerations.

      The processes of growth and development require energy and building materials over and above the demands of ordinary maintenance and the cost of physical work. In the adult a severe reduction of food intake results in a diminution of voluntary activity, which decreases the caloric expenditure, and an...

    • CHAPTER 46 Infectious Diseases and Undernutrition
      (pp. 1002-1014)

      From time immemorial famine and pestilence have been considered an inseparable pair, the twin fruits of war, but inseparable also when famine occurs without man’s being the sole creator of his misfortune. Prominent among the diseases thus associated with famine have been scarlet fever, diphtheria, dysentery, typhoid, typhus, cholera, and tuberculosis. Not only have these at times become epidemic in periods of famine, but there is much evidence that their course becomes more severe. It has been rather generally assumed that both the increased incidence and the virulence in such cases are due, at least in part, to the prevailing...

    • CHAPTER 47 Tuberculosis
      (pp. 1015-1039)

      Tuberculosis and malnutrition have been associated in the minds of most investigators ever since tuberculosis was recognized as a clinical entity. It is common knowledge that tuberculosis increases in frequency in times of famine, that it tends to progress more rapidly in malnourished patients, and that the disease is often arrested by the simple measures of rest and good food. However, until recently it has been extraordinarily hard to establish exact relationships or even to prove the correctness of the common belief that undernutrition directly favors the development of tuberculosis. There are three principal reasons for this: first, research on...

    • CHAPTER 48 Diabetes Mellitus and Undernutrition
      (pp. 1040-1050)

      The course and, very probably, the etiology of diabetes mellitus are intimately related to the nutritional state. The nutritional problems involved are complex because different types of nutritional or metabolic derangement, frequently operating at the same time, affect the course of the disease and its complications (cf. Guest, 1946). Attention must be given to caloric intakes, balance between the major nutrients, vitamins, and, probably, the mode and intensity of energy expenditure. All these factors are apt to be involved in the effects of general undernutrition, particularly when this is occasioned by limitations in the food supply to a population.


    • CHAPTER 49 Cancer and Other Neoplasms
      (pp. 1051-1056)

      In the Middle Ages fasting and hunger cures were advocated in the treatment of tumors and “swellings,” and other ailments. The view that dietary measures, generally involving some form of restriction, are efficacious in the control of cancer has never lacked proponents. A pretentious, rambling, and uncritical discussion is provided by Hoffman (1937). Neumann (1935) lists a large number of different dietary treatments for cancer, none of which, including his own, can command scientific support (cf. also Geréb, 1936). But in spite of the fact that the literature on the subject is overburdened with far more conclusions than facts, there...

    • CHAPTER 50 Diets for Rehabilitation, with Special Reference to the Minnesota Experiment
      (pp. 1057-1066)

      The problem of the nutritional rehabilitation of an undernourished person or a semi-starved population demands consideration of the character and amount of foods to be fed. Upon the nutritional characteristics of the rehabilitation diet will depend the rate, extent, and economic cost of recovery. In the vast majority of cases due regard must be given also to practical considerations — the local food supply, cost and availability of supplementary foods, established eating habits, and the methods for distribution. The exact state of nutriture at the outset is a major determinant. The starting point is fixed by the extent, qualitative character,...

  5. Appendixes

    • Notes on the Appendixes
      (pp. 1069-1070)
    • APPENDIX I Methods
      (pp. 1071-1118)
    • APPENDIX II Detailed Data from the Minnesota Experiment
      (pp. 1119-1238)
    • APPENDIX III Wartime Diets and Rations
      (pp. 1239-1246)
    • APPENDIX IV Some Notable Famines in History
      (pp. 1247-1252)
  6. References, Abbreviations, and Index