The Government of the Body: Medical Regimens and the Rationalization of Diet

  • Turner B
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Abstract

The theoretical perspectives of Max Weber & Michel Foucault are applied to the creation in Western civilization of a medical regimen of diet. Such practices are largely shaped by metaphoric images of the body. One of the first writers to propound dietary ideas was George Cheyne (1671-1743), who put forth the view that civilization had led to harmful changes in human eating habits, which in turn produced diseases of overindulgence. His regimen stressed foods from smaller plants or animals, foods with a dry, fleshy, or fibrous texture, & foods of a white color & mild taste. He favored a diet of milk & vegetable products, together with exercise & regular vomiting. These ideas primarily appealed to those rich enough to eat meat & drink alcohol, but became influential on the LMc through John Wesley's acceptance of them. Later concern for diet emerged out of concern for maintaining a fit population of laborers & soldiers. Ideas applied to this goal were largely worked out in prisons & insane asylums. W. H. Stoddard.

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Authors

  • Bryan S. Turner

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