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Question
Posted by: O-b-E-s-E | 2011/05/01

Why do you specialise in obesity?

Hi Dr Graham
I have been reading the posts here for a while now and don''t mean any disrespect to you or the readers, but I can''t understand why you have any compassion for those who have chosen to be overweight/obese/fat etc? Surely, at some point, you become tired of hearing the same old stories over and over again? Grossly overweight people disgust me. You are what you eat...I should know as I am one of them. Anyone who says they are " happy"  being engulfed by fat, is lying to themselves. I hate being fat but yet I am. If everyone knows how unhealthy being overweight is, then why is obesity rising? Are there really people who are okay with being obese? Why did you choose to specialise in eating disorders (especally obesity)?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hello O-b-E-s-E,

I find your question/comment very concerning, and wonder how much of your comments and questions are more a reflection of where you are in your relationship with yourself, than questioning my motive for working with individual with eating disorders. I don't think it is a case of individuals who are obese are actually happy about their weight condition, in much the same way that an alcoholic is not "happy" about being perpetually intoxicated. It's more a case of control and emotional dilemmas in which one is compelled to act on certain destructive impulses, instead of being self-nurturing and making healthy choices. What I am suggesting is that for individuals who are obese due to overeating, the decision to consume in such a manner is no different an addictive impulse to someone who drinks excessively or a drug addict who seeks the instant gratification of a mind-altered experience (an emotional anaesthetic), rather than facing real life difficulties more directly. For many obese individuals, overeating serves as an addictive process of providing instant comfort (which is very temporary). For many obese individuals, their large body also "serves" as a protection from society in which the extra fat feels almost like an armour from a world that feels threatening. This is especially the case for individuals who have been sexually abused, where the large body "protects" them from further sexual violation or sexual interest. Of course, it doesn't work out that way in reality, but it is the illusionary perception that motivated the overeating.

As far as individuals are "okay" about being overweight, I have to say that individuals differ, where some people more than others will be more concerned about conforming to societal norms and expectations to have a slim body than will others. Some individuals are not too concerned about carrying a few extra kilograms, even if it does compromise (knowingly or not) their optimal physical health. However, almost generally, individuals who are overweight would prefer to be otherwise, but do not act consciously to restore their weight to within normal levels. Also, some individuals are more predisposed to being overweight, either due to their genetic make-up or due to a legacy of years of unhealthy eating (many diets ironically). For such individuals, it is unlikely that they will ever return to a normal weight (or desired weight) by any means.

Why do I choose to work as much as I do within the arena of eating disorders? Well, I find it satisfying assisting individuals who need to restore their physical and emotional health after falling prey to eating disorders of all types. It is a challenge to help such individuals make repair and confront the emotional demons they carry that leave them with such low self concepts and self-destructive tendencies. I find working with addicts of all types similar to this.

From your question, it seems that you are rather loathing and judgmental of your own weight condition. I challenge you to confront this and seek the true motives behind your weight condition if it is due to over-consuming and/or lack of physical exercise. Seeing a therapist would be a good start.

I hope my comments have helped you.

Regards,

Graham

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1
Our users say:
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2011/05/15

Hello O-b-E-s-E,

I find your question/comment very concerning, and wonder how much of your comments and questions are more a reflection of where you are in your relationship with yourself, than questioning my motive for working with individual with eating disorders. I don't think it is a case of individuals who are obese are actually happy about their weight condition, in much the same way that an alcoholic is not "happy" about being perpetually intoxicated. It's more a case of control and emotional dilemmas in which one is compelled to act on certain destructive impulses, instead of being self-nurturing and making healthy choices. What I am suggesting is that for individuals who are obese due to overeating, the decision to consume in such a manner is no different an addictive impulse to someone who drinks excessively or a drug addict who seeks the instant gratification of a mind-altered experience (an emotional anaesthetic), rather than facing real life difficulties more directly. For many obese individuals, overeating serves as an addictive process of providing instant comfort (which is very temporary). For many obese individuals, their large body also "serves" as a protection from society in which the extra fat feels almost like an armour from a world that feels threatening. This is especially the case for individuals who have been sexually abused, where the large body "protects" them from further sexual violation or sexual interest. Of course, it doesn't work out that way in reality, but it is the illusionary perception that motivated the overeating.

As far as individuals are "okay" about being overweight, I have to say that individuals differ, where some people more than others will be more concerned about conforming to societal norms and expectations to have a slim body than will others. Some individuals are not too concerned about carrying a few extra kilograms, even if it does compromise (knowingly or not) their optimal physical health. However, almost generally, individuals who are overweight would prefer to be otherwise, but do not act consciously to restore their weight to within normal levels. Also, some individuals are more predisposed to being overweight, either due to their genetic make-up or due to a legacy of years of unhealthy eating (many diets ironically). For such individuals, it is unlikely that they will ever return to a normal weight (or desired weight) by any means.

Why do I choose to work as much as I do within the arena of eating disorders? Well, I find it satisfying assisting individuals who need to restore their physical and emotional health after falling prey to eating disorders of all types. It is a challenge to help such individuals make repair and confront the emotional demons they carry that leave them with such low self concepts and self-destructive tendencies. I find working with addicts of all types similar to this.

From your question, it seems that you are rather loathing and judgmental of your own weight condition. I challenge you to confront this and seek the true motives behind your weight condition if it is due to over-consuming and/or lack of physical exercise. Seeing a therapist would be a good start.

I hope my comments have helped you.

Regards,

Graham

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