In 1944-1945, Dr Ancel Keys, a specialist in nutrition and the inventor of the K-ration, led a carefully controlled yearlong study of starvation at the University of Minnesota Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene. It was hoped that the results would help relief workers in rehabilitating war refugees and concentration camp victims. The study participants were thirty-two conscientious objectors eager to contribute humanely to the war effort. By the experiment's end, much of their enthusiasm had vanished. Over a six-month semi-starvation period, they were required to lose an average of twenty-five percent of their body weight." [... ] p193 p193-194 "... the men exhibited physical symptoms... their movements slowed, they felt weak and cold, their skin was dry, their hair fell out, they had edema. And the psychological changes were dramatic. "[... ] p194 "The men became apathetic and depressed, and frustrated with their inability to concentrate or perform tasks in their usual manner. Six of the thirty-two were eventually diagnosed with severe "character neurosis, " two of them bordering on psychosis. Socially, they ceased to care much about others; they grew intensely selfish and self-absorbed. Personal grooming and hygiene deteriorated, and the men were moody and irritable with one another. The lively and cooperative group spirit that had developed in the three-month control phase of the experiment evaporated. Most participants lost interest in group activities or decisions, saying it was too much trouble to deal with the others; some men became scapegoats or targets of aggression for the rest of the group. Food - one's own food - became the only thing that mattered. When the men did talk to one another, it was almost always about eating, hunger, weight loss, foods they dreamt of eating. They grew more obsessed with the subject of food, collecting recipes, studying cookbooks, drawing up menus. As time went on, they stretched their meals out longer and longer, sometimes taking two hours to eat small dinners. Keys's research has often been cited often in recent years for this reason: The behavioral changes in the men mirror the actions of present-day dieters, especially of anorexics.
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As Mollie said to Dailey in the 1890s: "I am told that there are five other Mollie Fanchers, who together, make the whole of the one Mollie Fancher, known to the world; who they are and what they are I cannot tell or explain, I can only conjecture." Dailey described five distinct Mollies, each with a different name, each of whom he met (as did Aunt Susan and a family friend, George Sargent). According to Susan Crosby, the first additional personality appeared some three years after the after the nine-year trance, or around 1878. The dominant Mollie, the one who functioned most of the time and was known to everyone as Mollie Fancher, was designated Sunbeam (the names were devised by Sargent, as he met each of the personalities). The four other personalities came out only at night, after eleven, when Mollie would have her usual spasm and trance. The first to appear was always Idol, who shared Sunbeam's memories of childhood and adolescence but had no memory of the horsecar accident. Idol was very jealous of Sunbeam's accomplishments, and would sometimes unravel her embroidery or hide her work. Idol and Sunbeam wrote with different handwriting, and at times penned letters to each other. The next personality Sargent named Rosebud: "It was the sweetest little child's face, " he described, "the voice and accent that of a little child." Rosebud said she was seven years old, and had Mollie's memories of early childhood: her first teacher's name, the streets on which she had lived, children's songs. She wrote with a child's handwriting, upper- and lowercase letters mixed. When Dailey questioned Rosebud about her mother, she answered that she was sick and had gone away, and that she did not know when she would be coming back. As to where she lived, she answered "Fulton Street, " where the Fanchers had lived before moving to Gates Avenue. Pearl, the fourth personality, was evidently in her late teens. Sargent described her as very spiritual, sweet in expression, cultured and agreeable: "She remembers Professor West [principal of Brooklyn Heights Seminary], and her school days and friends up to about the sixteenth year in the life of Mollie Fancher. She pronounces her words with an accent peculiar to young ladies of about 1865." Ruby, the last Mollie, was vivacious, humorous, bright, witty. "She does everything with a dash, " said Sargent. "What mystifies me about 'Ruby, ' and distinguishes her from the others, is that she does not, in her conversations with me, go much into the life of Mollie Fancher. She has the air of knowing a good deal more than she tells.
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Pierre Janet, a French professor of psychology who became prominent in the early twentieth century, attempted to fully chronicle late- Victorian hysteria in his landmark work The Major Symptoms of Hysteria. His catalogue of symptoms was staggering, and included somnambulism (not sleepwalking as we think of it today, but a sort of amnesiac condition in which the patient functioned in a trance state, or "second state, " and later remembered nothing); trances or fits of sleep that could last for days, and in which the patient sometimes appeared to be dead; contractures or other disturbances in the motor functions of the limbs; paralysis of various parts of the body; unexplained loss of the use of a sense such as sight or hearing; loss of speech; and disruptions in eating that could entail eventual refusal of food altogether. Janet's profile was sufficiently descriptive of Mollie Fancher that he mentioned her by name as someone who "seems to have had all possible hysterical accidents and attacks." In the face of such strange and often intractable "attacks, " many doctors who treated cases of hysteria in the 1800s developed an ill-concealed exasperation.
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