Ruminating Physicians

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 tells us:

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.
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 16, 2010
     Category: Food | Medicine | Science | Stomach





Comments
"[S]weeter than honey and accompanied by a more delightful relish"?

Yes, clearly a sign of cognitive disorders, if ever I saw one. Anyone who's ever vomited into their mouth ever could probably go on record as saying the exact opposite.
Posted by kingmonkey in Athens, Ontario on 12/16/10 at 01:14 PM
I just hate when it comes out my nose :shut:
Posted by ANON in Nowhere on 12/16/10 at 02:50 PM
Sorgho28 -- Yes, it is! In addition to autism, he seems to have had an interest in rumination.
Posted by Alex on 12/16/10 at 03:08 PM
I just added a link to the Wikipedia article about Leo Kanner in my original post.
Posted by Alex on 12/16/10 at 03:10 PM
Deja Vu for your stomach.

"If I had ever been here before I would pro'bly know just what to do
Hey, don't you?
If I had ever been here before on another time around the wheel I would pro'bly know just how to deal
With all of you"

David Crosby
Posted by dorknozzle on 12/16/10 at 05:22 PM
I always thought that rumination referred to food for thought - guess not!
Posted by driven2succeed on 12/16/10 at 05:29 PM
probably became docs to find out what the hell was wrong with them. :sick:
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/16/10 at 06:03 PM
this just makes me :sick: oops, nope, better take that back....this just makes me :sick: oops, nope, better take tha...
Posted by done on 12/16/10 at 10:08 PM
lol dan!
old person, now that sounds like its caused by a digestive problem wherein the stomach doesn't have enough acid to break the food down properly. in fact, it would make some sense as a bodily response as saliva starts the breakdown of food in the mouth. still a nasty symptom.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/17/10 at 07:49 AM
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