Anorexia is a serious mental illness that wastes your body as it ravages your self-image. Some people find it a display of piety to simply not eat for forty days, mimicking all the mental illnesses that lead anorexics to the same behaviour. This is disturbing, especially when you can see them waste away and their already religiously-degraded mental functions dissipate over time. This video, via Andrew Skegg, is disturbing in exactly that way, especially when viewed in its proper context.
This woman is starving herself repeatedly over three forty-day fasts, engaging in anorexic behaviour by ingesting nothing but a multivitamin and water, breaking the fast with a week of Passover-kosher food then repeating the cycle, all for the purpose of getting in good with a deity that very probably does not exist. And on the chances that it does, it very probably does not care that you have starved yourself for so long out of supplication.
Below the fold. Trigger warning for anorexics.
This is delusional behaviour. By the end of the video, she is emaciated, and has to apply a ton of makeup not to look like a skeleton. She is very lucky that she did not die. If she had started out any skinnier, I strongly suspect she might have. If she had committed this fast in an era where multivitamins didn’t exist, the absence of that particular “cheat” would probably have prevented her from completing her three fasts — she would have almost certainly died.
The entire endeavour reminds me of the classic pigeon superstition study. When you’re faced with a complete absence of answer from the god that you are convinced exists, you develop more and more elaborate dances in hopes that you will please this god and gain infinite rewards. The fast is simply a more elaborate dance than ordinary prayer or giving something up for lent. Through the fast, while your body and faculties waste away, your “relationship” with this nonexistent entity improves only through self-reinforcement mechanisms. It is the Ouroboros prayer function that tricks you into believing that your particular dance must be pleasing God, even as your body deteriorates. And you never get the rewards you expect and believe yourself to deserve, but this slow self-immolation serves as its own reward via your twisted cognitive functions.
Sad. And distressing.