Sixty years before a British psychiatrist published the first description of bulimia, an item on the topic appeared in “Health and Happiness,” Dr. P.M. Hall’s medical column in the Minneapolis Tribune. In response to a question from a Fargo reader, the former Minneapolis health commissioner warned against self-induced vomiting as a way “to reduce” – but barely touched on its ill effects.
Health and Happiness
Conducted by Dr. P.M. Hall
Fargo, N.D. – About once a day I easily force vomiting by putting my finger into my throat. I can lose part of a meal that way and still feel fine. I am trying to reduce. Am I harming myself in any way by doing this?
* * *
Vomiting is a reversed peristalsis and the practice kept up will create an easy habit of vomiting which may be hard to overcome. Why not cut down on the eating instead of going through the trouble of vomiting up a part of the meal?
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A musically inclined vagrant known as Banjo Ben walked the streets of Minneapolis in the city's early days. His weakness for alcohol and penchant for strong language landed him in court with some frequency. In February 1876, for example, he was sentenced to 20 days in jail for spewing obscenities at the St. Paul and Pacific depot. Later that year, he walked into the Tribune newsroom and issued an invitation to witness a spectacular feat at the new suspension bridge under construction nearby.
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