An exhaustive examination of pica

An exhaustive examination of pica, the eating of hair, rotten wood, cloth, but most especially dirt and clay. Truly disturbing, as it gives a dizzying number of examples of dirt eating in societies around the world, and explores the possibilities of what causes the practice.

Laufer [a researcher working in the 1930s] left little doubt that earth eating had “nothing to do with climate, race, creed, culture areas, or a higher or lesser degree of culture.” Indeed, to read Laufer is to watch a war of attrition remove all notions of Otherness from our understanding of pica. He cites Humboldt, Cragin, and the seventeenth-century theories of vanity, but for the most part, the pica of his pages is quiet and reasoned, medicinal, culinary, religious.

2 thoughts on “An exhaustive examination of pica

  1. “Rebeca lost control of herself. She went back to eating earth and the whitewash on the walls with the avidity of previous days, and she sucked her finger with so much anxiety that she developed a callus on her thumb. She vomited up a green liquid with dead leeches in it.”

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