Sunday, February 12, 2006

Thank you, BigMamaDoc!

...for your (much appreciated!) reaction to my recent posts about med-induced weight problems:
The truth is, health and appearance are absolutely, 100%, forever intertwined. How many of us have looked in the mirror and felt 'depressed?' How many of us have avoided working out because we worry about what we'll look like at the gym? How many of us stay in unhealthy relationships because we worry that we have no options?

Ask a thin and athletic but homely woman if she would prefer to be pretty. Would it make her life easier? Yes. Would it improve her self-confidence? Yes. Would she have made different choices in her personal and professioanl life? Probably. Would junior high and high school have been more pleasant? Most definitely. Ask an intelligent, perfectly healthy man who is unfortunately unattractive if he would have an easier time getting that promotion or asking that woman on a date if he met the socially accepted standards of attractiveness.

We work with what we've got because we're survivors and many of us have no options. But if we had been given choices when we lined up at the gene pool, I bet we know which noses and bodies and hair we would have chosen. Pretty people have it easier. That's all there is to it.

Now, the fat acceptance folks do wonderful work. Because a good part of mental health is social interaction, it is super that fat people have support networks that help them get out there and get active. And nobody I've read has ever suggested that being psychotic is better than being fat. But my prediction is, once that patient leaves the supportive confines of her hospital and enters the real world, she will feel the stares, the contempt and the repulsion that we fat people have tolerated forever. The question is, does her not recognizing her weight problem indicate that she's still crazy? In my opinion, no. It just means she hasn't had a chance to get back to a regular life where her obesity will be pointed out to her every minute of every day. And yes, that is sad.

It all boils down to this: We need better drugs. Or maybe as a society we need better values. Better drugs are probably easier to accomplish.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dr John Crippen said...

Oh Heavens, I have come late to this, having just discoverd the Nia artice in a UK magazine - and now it is appearing all over the place. God know's why - maybe because it is causing so much offence.

The article is appalling, sexist pap. I found it hard to get past the first few sentences ("too attractive to be on a psychiatric ward" (sic)!!) but struggled on. 42 pounds weight gain in three weeks? That is 7000 calories a day above (abeit drug reduced) metabolic requirements. How would she get so much food on a locked ward? I don't believe it. Another patient found in bed with her? Well, it happens, I suppose, but I am suspicious. All in all, this story is fictionalised or may even be invented. So looking at the psychopathology of the guy who wrote it, what is his primary gain apart from making a little money? What is he trying to say? Fat is ugly? Drugs make you fat? Mental illness makes beautiful people ugly?

Read through the article inserting "George" every time you see Nia, and "him" for "her". Hey presto, the article disappears. It has no purpose. It is just a little sexual male peccadillo written by someone who, if he really is a psychiatrist, ought to know better.

You do not need to be a feminist to realise it is rabid, sexually offensive nonesense.

It made me very cross.

There...I feel better for that!

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Crippen, I agree with you on all but one point - the food. Having been in a psychiatric facility I can say that at least one of them out there does have a 24 hour buffet. From what I observed, gorging on food is putting it nicely. I was appaled. I watched people throughout the day go back and forth to the snack room. Danish after danish after danish disappeared. Ice cream sandwiches followed by popcorn and then more ice cream sandwichs. How having all of that junk food lying around was supposed to be helpful to patients is beyond my understanding. They certainly helped create a lot of anxiety for patients there with bulimia or those who already had a weight problem. My hope is that not all psych facilities operate this way. It certainly doesn't do the patient any favors.

4:39 PM  

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