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Perspectives of eating disorders from the Charité Hospital in Berlin.

  • Neumärker, Klaus-Jürgen
  • Bartsch, Andreas Joachim
Published Article
European child & adolescent psychiatry
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2003
12 Suppl 1
PMID: 12567210


Eating disorders have attracted steadily expanding clinical and scientific attention since second half of the 19(th) century and, particularly, after the core descriptions of anorexia nervosa had been delivered by Gull and Lasègue. In this review, we attempt to illustrate perspectives on eating disorders that have emerged since then from the work at the Charité Hospital in Berlin. It is shown that the professional fate of care for eating disorders has been tied closely to the maturation of the specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy in the 20(th) century. From the early beginnings of Theodor Ziehen (1862-1950) heading the Psychiatric and Neurological University Clinic of the Charité Hospital in Berlin and being devoted to child psychiatry and psychology, the issue of eating disorders has been pursued at the Charité throughout the vicissitudes of time. After a ward for children suffering from mental illnesses was instituted by Karl Bonhoeffer (1868-1948) in 1921, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy has constituted itself first in terms of a division and finally as a separate department at the Charité Hospital. Over the years, quite a remarkable body of work on eating disorders has accumulated in this institution. It is emphasised that the value of contributions inherited appears not just of historical interest. The past has addressed psychotherapeutic, anthropological, biological, psychometric, neuropsychological, and transcultural aspects which continue to yield insights into the nature of eating disorders. Tasks and prospects ahead are based upon this background, and some of these are outlined briefly.

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