• Jonmel
    17
    Could treating obesity, and other habitual diseases such as smoking/ alcoholism, as mental illness be effective?

    Obesity is a chronic condition of overeating and lack of physical activity leading to other conditions such as inflammation, anxiey, tiredness, chronic pain, lack of mobility and dependency on others. An obese person lives in a constant state of awareness of their condition, it defines itself by being an illness which cannot be hidden. It effects social relationships and becomes part of a person's identity. Its the first thing people notice when they see you, it becomes more prevelant than the actual person behind the disease. It consumes every gasp for breath, every welling of emotion, every muddled thought. It leads itself to a state of defiance and denial that a problem even exists. But it is there, always, a contradiction of mind and self. A cycle of self destructive behaviour (eating) and emotional breakdown. It is a delusion of one's own mind and therefore should be treated as a mental illness.

    The solution is simple. Stop eating, fast until the weight is normal. This could take months but it is easy to do. As the weight comes down physical activity becomes easier, social cohesion becomes more normalised. The person is treated with more respect and well being, gains freedom and the identity which was lost.

    But the mind wants to feel despair, loss of control, helplessness, pain and sorrow. It wants to be dependent on others, it wants attention, to feel loved. It is the mind which self harms the body so that others will take pity. So others can see the desperation of this person's state. It is a cry for help, a breakdown of self.

    Treating the mind can be acheived through meditation, yoga, focused attention, music and other forms of art, physical exercise and purpose (through work, family or other goals). Still the western world lives with this endemic.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.3k
    Interesting topic, and for the most part I agree with your sentiment. Although the following statement I see as somewhat problematic:

    The solution is simple.Jonmel

    It may be simple in some cases, where the individual in question has the will to improve their situation.

    Unfortunately, in so far as you are dealing with people who do not have the will to improve, are psychologically exhausted, have lost hope, are caught in the grips of pessimism and self-pity, etc etc... I don't think the solution is so simple. You would first have to overcome all of these grounding causes for the obesity before you can instil in them the will to take the actions which you mention will rightly improve their situation.
  • Jonmel
    17
    Unfortunately, in so far as you are dealing with people who do not have the will to improve, are psychologically exhausted, have lost hope, are caught in the grips of pessimism and self-pity, etc etc... I don't think the solution is so simple. You would first have to overcome all of these grounding causes for the obesity before you can instil in them the will to take the actions which you mention will rightly improve their situation.Mr Phil O'Sophy

    Hi Phil 'O Sophy,

    Thanks for your input. I think for people who do genuinely feel like they have a lost the will to self improve have already won half the battle. At least they can acknowledge there is a problem which needs to be addressed; it must be an horrendous realisation but the first part of treatment through meditation would be to accept these feelings and allow them to flow. It is when this energy is blocked that it manifests itself within the body.

    I think for most obese, and especially overweight people, there is at first denial. The human form naturally fluctuates and self awareness is often distorted so that it is easy for the mind to make excuses - 'they'll go on a diet after Christmas/ they'll start an exercise next week ...'. I've seen this mind set go on in recurring cycles for decades for some people. The mind is incredibly good at deluding itself. The first priority above all else should be to cure this disease, unfortunately most people prioritise almost anything else including work/ family/ friends/ hobbies/ interests than fully accepting the extent of the problem. It is this which allows the disease to grow and become stronger to the detriment of the patient.
  • Grre
    78
    Obesity is not a “one card” issue. Meaning that being obese is not just a random occurence, it is the result of systemic issues present here in North America. ie. a terrible healthcare system (US), price of healthy vs. unhealthy food, poor quality of food/life in general/poverty and other mental issues present even before the obesity began (many times weight gain is a symptom of various mental illnesses). The lifestyle here, culture, everything pretty much promotes unhealthy eating and an unhealthy lifestyle. Obesity is also genetic, not necessarily meaning people are born obese but rather due to bone size, ect. are predisposed to b le overweight and thus at risk for what we would call “obesity”. Genetic also = environmental meaning that most likely if the individuals family members are all over weight the environment influenced these genes; unhealthy eating, poverty ect.

    I do certainly agree with your statement that obesity can be a form of self harm, and certainly this obesity in many cases comorbidates with mental illnesses that only exacerbate the issue,
    making it almost impossible to escape. I hold that obesity is not the CAUSE per say of self harm or these issues but rather is a symptom/form of self harm of a bigger problem more generally. Self harm in all its examples is the individal attempting to regain control of their lives/feelings ect. and it becomes an abusive cycle.
  • Joe
    9
    I agree that obesity is a chronic illness and that we do need to cure it, but like any mental illness it has many aspects that we need to assess. Obesity as we know is brought on by a cocktail mix of reasons. Obviously there is the surrounding environment which often has a huge affect on people with obesity. Being surrounded by those with the same condition can often desensitize you to it.

    Obesity being a form of self-harm I take some issue with however. I think that depends fully on why a person is obese. If they have reached obesity due to the simple fact that they over-eat, then I don't think that constitutes self-harm. If someone has an eating disorder in which they eat when they are nervous or if they feel sad or some such reason, then I believe in this case that would be classified as self-harm.

    All in all, this is a very heavy topic that requires many minds more intelligent than my own to fully deconstruct.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.8k
    Calories in the form of sugars and fats have never been cheaper, and as a result obesity is a global problem. Welcome toThe Fat Earth Society.

    The solution is simple. Stop eating, fast until the weight is normal.Jonmel

    Sorry, that is simply not true.

    Some people get fat as an act of self harm, but this is a small minority. Most people get fat, and become obese because their calorie intake exceeds their calories expended. Age, lifestyle changes, living situations, and various other factors can affect this.

    I was slim and fit till I was about 45. Then I changed from a fairly active job to a sedentary one, and started gaining weight--slowly. By the time I was 60 I was beginning to approach obesity, and since then I haven't been able to lower my weight by more than 3% to 6%. At 72, the chances of losing a significant amount of weight are about nil. What I can do, and do work towards, is a reasonable level of activity to stay reasonably flexible and strong.

    Much worse than fat 50 year olds are fat 10 or 15 year olds who are clinically obese. I wouldn't blame them for being obese; I'd blame low quality food and a repellent outdoor physical and social environments.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.3k
    'they'll go on a diet after Christmas/ they'll start an exercise next week ...'. I've seen this mind set go on in recurring cycles for decades for some people.Jonmel

    lol so true. when I used to be on social media, most of the status updates around the new year were focused on going on diets etc, and then come feb, people have given that up and posted depressed statuses and images of them eating greasy take away.

    The first priority above all else should be to cure this disease, unfortunately most people prioritise almost anything else including work/ family/ friends/ hobbies/ interests than fully accepting the extent of the problem.Jonmel

    especially with the more recent and toxic body positivity movement which appears to want to make people more complacent with there unhealthy versions.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.9k
    Could treating obesity, and other habitual diseases such as smoking/ alcoholism, as mental illness be effective?Jonmel

    I'm not sure what difference it would make to classify it as a mental illness. How would that practically result in dealing with it differently than we already do?
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.3k
    I'm not sure what difference it would make to classify it as a mental illness. How would that practically result in dealing with it differently than we already do?Terrapin Station

    This is a good point. It might also have the opposite of the intended effect, and encourage people to believe its something out of their control and so be less willing to act on rectifying the problem.
  • Waya
    1k
    Sometimes I think obesity in some cases is the result of mental illness, poor stress coping techniques, and so forth. A whole mass of reasons and causes could be compiled, but it's more of a symptom in my opinion.
  • Purple Pond
    493
    Obesity is only a problem because there's too much food around today. In hunter gatherer society, in which we evolved, food was scarce, and you had to burn a lot of calories just to get it. If anything people who are obese now would have more of a chance of surviving during the hunter gatherer period. Those with higher metabolism or those with little appetite would die off during a famine because their bodies aren't efficient at storing fat.

    So obesity isn't so much of self harm in that it's more like a maladaption to modern society.
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