Rumination is the practice of bringing food back up from the stomach after it's been swallowed, rechewing it, and then swallowing it again. When cows do this, it's called "chewing the cud." When humans do it habitually, it's considered to be an eating disorder. The Wikipedia article on Rumination Syndrome
The disorder has been historically documented as affecting only infants, young children, and people with cognitive disabilities (where the prevalence is as high as 10% in institutionalized patients with various mental disabilities). Today it is being diagnosed in increasing numbers of otherwise healthy adolescents and adults, though there is a lack of awareness of the condition by doctors, patients and the general public.
But in an article by Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Leo Kanner
, "Historical Notes on Rumination in Man" (Medical Life
, 45, 1936) we learn a strange factoid. Kanner writes:
It is, indeed, a curious fact that not less than fourteen physicians are known to have been habitual ruminators. This is especially interesting in the light of the statistical evidence of the extreme rarity of this condition.
Kanner's list of ruminating physicians begins with a 17th century medical student who reported that rumination was "sweeter than honey and accompanied by a more delightful relish." The most famous name on the list is the 19th century French physician Edouard Brown-Séquard
who developed a rumination problem after conducting a series of self-experiments in which he repeatedly swallowed a sponge and tried to vomit it back up.
Kanner's list was written in 1936, so it's possible there are now more ruminating physicians that could be added to it. Why physicians would ruminate in greater number than members of other professions, I have no idea.