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, “Fat 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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And, even though you wouldn’t look at me, you at least seemed interested in what I had to say — no, no, that’s not right — you were interested in what I could or might say if I stopped being so jolly.

But no one ever questioned why she ladh lose weight and what the effect of a therapist filled with ywlom and disgust for her body would have on her feelings about herself. First, she enrolled in an eating-disorder program at the clinic where I worked and completed their demanding protocol, fa included a complex physical workup she still refused a pelvic exam and a battery of psychological tests. I stammered, “You know, psychiatrists don’t ordinarily touch their ” “Let me interrupt you before you tell any more fibs and your nose gets longer and longer like Pinocchio.

Consider ten to be the most significant revealing you can imagine and one to be the type of revealing you might do, let’s say, with strangers in a line at the movies.


Though my response — asking whether she worried about entering “nonvirgin territory” — was a sorry joke, it nonetheless initiated an important discussion about sex. I want to tear the food away. I have elevated, idealized, ecstacized it to a level and a goal that exceeds all reason. When I ylom her two days later, she seemed guilty and depressed. A man at the office walked her out to her car.


Betty’s mood now fluctuated wildly, and I grew increasingly lad cerned for her. She resisted every effort on my part to dip beneath the surface. I pounced at the opportunity to understand this development. It’s not like I expect anything more. I’ll miss our meetings. Also, you didn’t fall asleep. Without him there, I was next in line.


How would I respond when she asked about my feelings toward her? Remember, I’m in the same group with Carlos and we often chat after gat group about you.

Four years earlier, her only daughter had died of cancer, one day before her 13th birthday. What was the point of having trusted me at all?

Once, when he learned about the spread of his cancer to his brain, I held him in my arms while he wept. They were painting the whole outside of the house.

She had plenty of daunting explanations. 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. I stretched to find a way to respond, but still it was less than I wanted to give. I needed someone to hate, too.

Memories of her father permeated lafy flashbacks. Now she was saying she had gone far ,ady it was time to stop. Betty was a good student, attended the state university, went to work for a department store in Texas, and after two years was transferred to the central office in New York. Who could have imagined that, out of that woman whose vacuous chatter had so bored me and her previous psychiatrist, this thoughtful, spontaneous, and sensitive person could have emerged?

This is raw and ugly stuff. Every profession has within it a realm of possibility wherein the practitioner may seek perfection.

The origins of these sorry feelings? Furthermore, I have always found that re- sponsible neophyte therapists who convey their sense of curiosity and enthusiasm often form excellent therapeutic relationships and can be as effective as a seasoned professional. Could it be that he found me? She cooked and she fed me — she was real good at that — but she was weak — I was the one protecting her.


Fat Betty | Jung At Heart

How dare they impose that body on the rest of us? I’ve gained around twenty pounds in the past three months, and I can’t get into most of my clothes. She was incapable, or unwilling, to reveal herself in the immediate present that we two were sharing. By now Betty was permitted some solid food — one diet TV dinner a day — but found this more difficult to follow than the liquid-only diet.

Not only was our initial, tentative “cocktail chatter” indefinitely pro- longed, but I had a strong sense that, even when we got past this stage, we would remain fused to the surface of things — that as long as Betty and I met, we were doomed to talk about pounds, diets, petty work griev- ances, and the reasons she did not join an aerobics class.

Betty made it 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. The word empty was to arise more and more frequently as 9 8 Fat Lady therapy proceeded. I think you are determined, absolutely committed, to be jolly with me. Do I resent the fat woman for her desecration of my desire, for bloating and profaning each lovely feature that I cherish? In the course of her abbreviated treatment-Yalom was about to start a sabbatical and could only offer 12 sessions-Penny resolutely faced the major issues of her life.

But this was my problem, not Betty’s. Nevertheless, I do hand it to Yalom for saying out loud what I am quite certain that many therapists feel and never speak. To be frank, she revolted me. It seemed astonish- ingly fast and easy. We got up to leave, and I offered her my hand, both hands. I have always been repelled by fat women.