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The Impact Of Psychological Scarring

A number of years ago I had a new patient enter our program at 325 pounds and she told me that she intentionally gained 150 pounds from her “usual” 175.   She went on to explain that the reason why she gained the weight was to “show my mother that she cannot control me anymore”.  Further details revealed that throughout her entire life, the patient’s very controlling mother would, on a daily basis, ridicule/chide/demean her on a daily basis about her weight.  Finally, the patient decided to break free of the mother’s psychological abuse and not obsess about her weight anymore.

Many years ago another story emerged from a 300-plus pound male patient entering our program.  He told me that his parents sent him to a “fat camp” one summer to shed lots of weight but before going, they painted on his abdomen these words:  “DON’T FEED ME”.  

One last story:  Much more recently we had a new patient come into our program because of this motivation:  Her husband decided to leave her and on the way out the door, his last words to her were these:  “Look at yourself in the mirror…you are a fat pig…I didn’t marry you this way.”  

The above stories are sort of extreme incidences of psychological scarring that may take place in peoples’ lives concerning their weight control.  There are many, many more subtle experiences that scar people emotionally/psychologically during their weight control journeys.  When I speak with patients that have experienced these issues, often the scenario involves a very critical mother harping on her daughter about the physical appearance, most notably the weight.  Rarely do I hear stories about the father being the major culprit of the psychological abuse.  My suspicion is that the mothers that inflict this psychological scarring on their daughters have probably experienced similar abuse from their mothers or husbands.

Do you feel that your weight control journey has been negatively impacted by psychological scarring of some sort?  If so, perhaps a successful component to your journey may be including some one-on-one psychological counseling separate from our weekly program visits.  I would be happy to speak with you very confidentially about this…my e-mail is:  Just send me a note and we can arrange a very confidential call.

Successful weight control is difficult enough even without any element of psychological scarring.  Add this element to the picture and the chances of long-term success diminish even further.  Addressing/confronting this aspect may be of great help.

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