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The nutritional disturbance in anorexia nervosa almost invariably leads to striking physiological changes, which include amenorrhoea, bradycardia, hypotension and relative hypothermia with reversal of the usual diurnal temperature rhythm (Bliss and Branch, 1960; Mayer-Gross et al., 1960; Crisp and Roberts, 1962; Crisp, 1967a). Crisp (1965a, 1967a) has commented on the characteristic and excessive alertness, restlessness and insomnia displayed by anorexia nervosa patients, whom he regards as showing a specific type of malnutrition associated with carbohydrate starvation. Russell (1967) has also recently demonstrated that patients with this illness restrict especially their carbohydrate intake.
It is a common clinical observation that emotional disturbance can influence a patient's response to sedative drugs. In recent years these effects have been studied in both normal and emotionally ill subjects. Kornetsky and Humphries (1957) found that in ten healthy adults the response to small doses of secobarbital sodium correlated with the scores on the depression and psychasthenia scales of the MMPI. Von Felsinger et al. (1955), in a study of the effect of a variety of psychotropic drugs, including pentobarbitone, on “normal” subjects, observed that those who responded in an atypical fashion tended to have abnormal personalities and to suffer from depressive episodes. Beecher (1955) has pointed out that the degree of placebo effect on post-operative analgesia varies with the severity of the stress to which the patient is exposed.
Since human electroencephalography was first introduced by Berger in 1929, there have been many attempts to correlate the alpha rhythm with various aspects of personality. Lemere (1936) first reported a relationship between “good” and “poor” alpha rhythms and cyclothymic and schizoid personalities respectively. Gottlober (1938) found a correlation between a high alpha index (per cent. time alpha) and extraversion. However, Henry and Knott (1941) pointed out that the group studied by Gottlober was loaded both with high alpha indices and extraverts, and with additional data were unable to find a significant relationship between extraversion-introversion and alpha index.
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