Spiritual self starvation en-route to salvation

Eliezer Witztum, Daniel Stein, Yael Latzer, Moshe Kalian

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    The chapter describes the historical background of the relationships between eating disorders and religious and symbolic idioms. Subsequently, the phenomenon termed “spiritual self-starvation�? and its linkage to asceticism is described in the context of religious beliefs and practices. The religious aspects of this phenomenon are further elaborated via three cases demonstrating the so-called “Jerusalem Syndrome.�? Accordingly, their extraordinary visit to Jerusalem has led them to induced fasting and voluntary refusal to eat in the context of sacredness, purification, and penance. The afflicted individuals perceive their distress in terms that construct a narrative integrating self-starvation into their religious and spiritual life. “Spiritual self-starvation�? in these cases exceeds the boundaries of religious devoutness to the extent of self-endangering psychotic attitudes and behaviors. The significance of Jerusalem as a unique sacred space where according to religious eschatology, great events are about to occur, may lead premorbidly vulnerable individuals to enactments that are reflected in their utilization of the holy space for personal salvation as well as for global redemption.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBio-Psycho-Social Contributions to Understanding Eating Disorders
    PublisherSpringer International Publishing
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319327426
    ISBN (Print)9783319327402
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Asceticism
    • Eating disorder
    • Jerusalem syndrome
    • Religious
    • Self-starvation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (all)
    • Psychology (all)
    • Social Sciences (all)


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