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Gaining Weight As Punishment

This entry was inspired by a movie we saw yesterday, “The Whale”.  The flick was about a 600 pound college instructor (played by Brendan Fraser) that was home bound due to his morbid obesity.  He was trying to reconnect with his 17 year old daughter who he was estranged from.  The character had left his wife and daughter about 10 years ago to be with his gay lover.  The lover had died subsequently and Fraser’s character began a downward spiral of food gorging resulting in the massive weight.  When he saw his daughter for the first time in 8 years, the daughter was horrified to see his appearance.  She was very angry with him for abandoning her and the mother and let him know how much she hated him and was disgusted by him.  There were several scenes that showed Fraser’s character gorging on candies, pizza and subs when he became upset with himself for having abandoned his daughter.

When I see movies such as this, I cannot help my mind from going away from movies and to reality.  Over the years, I have had several extremely morbidly obese people (well over 400 pounds) come into our program.  All of these patients, in my medical opinion, had significant psychiatric disease that required lots more help than we can provide in our program.  When I performed my initial consultation with these patients, it became apparent that almost all of them believed in some way that they needed to be “punished” for previous behaviors.  These behaviors were not solely their out of control eating, but rather, some other aspects of their lives.  In these cases, excessive food intake was not done for “pleasure” but rather, the intent was to punish themselves by being less functional and less attractive.

Weight control is not a simple matter of “calories in/calories out” nor are the psychological aspects “simple” as well.  There are many factors such as hormonal, neurotransmitter, environmental and genetics that influence our ability to control weight.  The concept of “relationship with food” is often brought up by people with chronic weight control issues. 

I believe we all need to take a step back and self-analyze why we may find ourselves over eating/over drinking those foods/drinks that derail our weight control efforts.  Is there an element of “punishment” associated with this as opposed to pure pleasure seeking?  If so, would professional counseling be of help?  This is something to consider.

Sorry for the “not very fun” post today.  For those people that like action, comedy and/or romantic pictures, stay away from “The Whale”.  For those that do not mind leaving a theater feeling down but yet in a thought-provoking state, go see this film.  Brendan Fraser’s performance is outstanding.

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