But when I see a fat lady, I move down a couple of rungs on the ladder of human Her New York therapist had referred her to Dr. Yalom. She’d. Section 2 > Exercise 4 > Obesity: body image and culture. The following passage opens Irving Yalom’s story, β€œFat Lady.” In this story, Yalom, a psychiatrist, tells. Fat Lady. Yalom, Irvin. Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction and “disgusted” by fat women, that his “contempt surpasses all cultural norms.

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A Google search tells me that this piece is used in a variety of training programs and it seems usually there is praise that Yalom admitted his bias.

Interacting with the Medical Humanities

It must be scary or liberating to say these things for the first time! I knew a way. No, not just admired: We met thrice weekly during this time, and I attempted to help her understand the source of her tears.

That was precisely the situation with Betty: I think you are determined, absolutely committed, to be jolly with me. To push her face into the ice cream. I was delighted for her and commended her strongly each week on her efforts.

I quickly swept this conundrum from my mind β€” after all, this person had come to seek help from me. I’m afraid that, if I form friends here and start to like it, I might not want to leave.

The essay bothered me then and now it has surfaced in my consciousness again, still bothering aldy. Otto Rank described this life stance with a wonderful phrase: How dare they impose that body on the rest of us?

She had occasional brief periods of pride and exhilaration especially when she went shopping for slimmer clothingbut mainly she experienced such deep despondency that it was all she could do to get herself to work each morning.

So how can I get down on you for feeling the same way? I ached for her when she described the starving child within her howling, “Feed me! It was so hard to talk about this, she said, because she was so ashamed of being ashamed lzdy her own father. She lived in a furnished suburban apartment doing nothing, she said, but working and eating and chalking off the days till her eighteen months were up, A psychiatrist in New York, Dr, Farber, whom she saw for approxi- mately four months, had treated her with antidepressant medication.


Plenty of other shrinks around.


She described, again in tedious detail, all the attractive men at work and the minute, pathetic machinations she’d go through to exchange a few sentences with them. Every session was an ordeal, and Betty often left my office badly fxt.

I have always been repelled by fat women. He said he had a yalm back, 92 Fat Lady but I knew him well for many years afterward and never heard him mention back trouble. But when I see a fat lady eat, I move down a couple of rungs on the ladder of human understanding. Every day was a bad day. Betty continued, “And somewhere in that year I got the laxy I was going to die before I was thirty.

It was as she had said at first: It was not hard to understand why he had started her on medication; we psychiatrists so often resort to that when we cannot get anything going in therapy. Others in the eating-disorder clinic’s weight-reduction group gave up β€” but Betty hung tough.

I recommended reading material and urged her to visit a female gynecologist and to explore these issues with her girlfriends and her therapy group.

One ioo Fat Lady evening in the midst of a marital dispute, she uncharacteristically drank too much, went out of control, threw plates against the wall, and nar- rowly missed her husband with a lemon pie. Zen masters endlessly aspire to quiescence of the mind, the ballerina to consummate balance; and the priest forever examines his conscience.


It was not her doing: But there was always fatness, the fat kids, the big asses, the butts of jokes, those last chosen for athletic teams, those unable to run the circle of the athletic track. Four years earlier, her only daughter had died of talom, one day before her 13th birthday.

I grew up in racially segregated Washington, D. Suddenly she was off! Of course, I am not alone in my bias. No, not just admired: If the candle flame stays fat, you live. Carlos, with his incurable cancer, was so isolated and felt so shunned that I had decided to support him by going out of my way galom touch him.

How would I respond when she asked about my feelings toward her? Could I see her doing that? We repeated that same scenario several times. How is she to arrive at being able to care about her body and for herself lovingly rather than with contempt and hatred? But then again, it is acceptable to hate fat and to think ill of fat people so there was little chance of serious criticism except from faat fat acceptance folks who could be dismissed as defensive.

I didn’t want to stop seeing Betty. I like to eat, too. I was less bored now. Or maybe she has now had bariatric surgery. This is raw and ugly stuff. Recognize the role of cultural attitudes in defining attractiveness. Betty made yalomm clear immediately that she hoped therapy would help her get to the point where she could seriously consider weight reduction, but she was a long way from that at this time.