Spiritual self starvation en-route to salvation

Eliezer Witztum, Daniel Stein, Yael Latzer, Moshe Kalian

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


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
EditorsY. Latzer, D. Stein
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319327426
ISBN (Print)9783319327402
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences


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