physical and psychological decline caused
by starvation and offered guidelines
on rehabilitation. In the restricted
rehabilitation, calories were increased
in increments. The experiment also
looked at unrestricted rehabilitation
and — even though participants were
warned against it — some engaged in
extreme overeating. Of the various diets
and supplements that were studied
during the rehabilitation phase of the
experiment, the most reliable weight-gain strategy was high caloric intake.
Simply put, starving people needed
calories. Food and lots of it was the
key to rehabilitation. It was as true for
those released from the laboratory in
Minnesota as it was for those freed from
the privations of war in Europe.
In 1950, Keys, Brozek and other
members of the team published their
data in the two-volume set “The Biology
of Human Starvation,” which is still a
landmark work on human starvation.
The men who served as subjects went
their separate ways, some into relief
work, the ministry, education and
other service-oriented occupations.
Brozek, who had developed an interest
in the history of psychology, would go
on to Lehigh University and became a
recognized psychology historian. Keys,
who is well-known for his work on the
Mediterranean diet, is also remembered
for popularizing the body mass index.
His contributions and visibility were
significant enough to earn him a place
on the cover of Time magazine in 1961.
The story of the Minnesota Starvation
Experiment is many stories rolled into
one. It reminds us of the privilege
we have; most of us can avoid the
unpleasant sensation of hunger by simply
reaching for something to eat. Hunger
so when it is created by human affairs.
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment
also tells the story of service and sacrifice
among those who served in the Civilian
Public Service and raised questions about
the ethics of human experimentation.
Mostly, it reminds us that in psychology
studies of mind and body, science and
practice can converge to deal with real
problems in the real world. n
David Baker, PhD, is the Margaret Clark
Morgan executive director of the Center
for the History of Psychology and professor of psychology at the University of Akron. Natacha Keramidas is a graduate
assistant at the Center for the History of
Psychology and a PhD student in the collaborative program in counseling psychology. Katharine S. Milar, PhD, is historical
editor for “Time Capsule.”
Kalm, L.M., & Semba,
R.D. (2005). They starved
so that others be better
fed: Remembering Ancel
Keys and the Minnesota
Experiment. Journal of
Nutrition, 135, 1347–1352.
Keys, A., Brozek, J.,
Henshel, A., Mickelson, O.,
& Taylor, H.L. (1950). The
biology of human starvation,
(Vols. 1–2). Minneapolis,
MN: University of Minnesota
Tucker, T. (2007). The
great starvation experiment:
Ancel Keys and the men
who starved for science.
Minneapolis, MN: University
of Minnesota Press.
Application deadline for
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For more information
Call Sandra Rollison
610-647-4400, ext. 3215
College of Graduate Studies
The Psy.D. program in Clinical Psychology
at Immaculata University is APA-accredited.
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