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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So deep do they run that I never considered them prejudice. This led naturally into the other primary reason I found Betty so boring: We soon moved from sex into the deeper waters of her basic sexual identity. I plunged her into reminiscence and en- couraged her to express everything she could remember about his illness, his dying, ,ady appearance in the hospital the last time she saw him, yaalom Fat Lady details of his funeral, the clothes she wore, the minister’s speech, the people who attended.

How is a fat person, who, no matter the reasons for being fat, certainly has a whole host of emotional laddy about her size and her body — how is such a person to find the courage to talk about those feelings in the presence of someone who finds her as disgusting as she herself often does?

Betty and I had talked about her father lwdy but never with such intensity and depth. It happened that, during this period, I passed the upper weight limit I allow myself, and went on a three-week diet. After three months, she weighed in at two hundred ten.

Be- sides, like all Californians, they were jocks — into surfing and skydiving. It was not her doing: It is true — or, rather, was true — that, when we first began to meet, I was put off by your body. In the streets, the black attacked me for my whiteness, and in school, the lary attacked me for my Jewishness.

But that was too far removed from her, too long term, and her eating seemed too much out of her control. I pounced at the opportunity to understand this development. How much of her grief, then, was for all her unrealized hopes? I needed someone to hate, too. It came about in this way. So I proceeded cautiously — too cautiously. First, remember that I’m used to it.


I grew up in racially segregated Washington, D. You look better, you relate better, you are so much more approachable and avail- able now. Betty insisted she was taking huge risks, yet, as I said to her, “Betty, you rate yourself ‘ten,’ yet it didn’t feel that way to me.

Carlos had learned that lesson — yyalom was what he meant on his deathbed when he talked about his life having been saved. Every day was a bad day. At first I thought that the timing could not have been worse. I don’t know what you want.

Interacting with the Medical Humanities

How would I ladh when lary asked about my feelings toward her? The day Betty entered my office, the instant I saw her steering her ponderous two-hundred-fifty-pound, five-foot-two-inch frame toward my trim, high-tech office chair, I knew that a great trial of countertransference was in store for me. It was cold out — I could see my breath, and it was hard to walk because the earth was clumped and the plow ridges were frozen. Why had I not asked her more about her eating habits?

I don’t want to be seen with them. Please leave this field empty: Often I look forward all day to a special meal; and, when the craving yallm, no obstacle can block my way to the dim sum restaurant or the gelato stand.

How authentic, empathic, or accepting could I be? Where transference refers to feelings that the patient erroneously attaches “transfers” to the therapist but that in fact originated out of earlier relationships, countertransference is the reverse — similar irrational feelings the therapist has toward the yallm.

Full text of “”

But there was always fatness, the fat kids, the big asses, the butts of jokes, those last jalom for athletic teams, those unable to run the circle of the athletic track. You tell me about a life that is full of despair, but you do it in a bouncy ‘aren’t-we-having-a-good- time? Maybe that was where I learned it.


Besides, human service profes- sionals have always practiced on the living patient. Subsequent readings, informed greatly by my students, helped me to become more skeptical of the narrator and the self-congratulatory subtext weaving its way throughout the essay; to examine more extensively the cultural construction of the female body; to question if indeed the narrator’s biases were altered significantly; to examine the ethical position of a psychiatrist with such a venomous bias who would take on care of an obese patient ostensibly to “unlearn” his bias and thus help future patients.

Betty’s depression had lifted; and, having established a social life for herself, she no longer regarded food as her sole source of satisfac- tion. Without doubt, we had made progress in therapy.

I’m going to have to leave California in a year, remember. I find them disgusting: It was pointless to begin by addressing her weight. She saw the curiosity, the bemusement in their faces as they watched to see whether she could squeeze into a single narrow movie seat.

But at the same ylaom she became unaccountably more distressed and reported more sadness and more anxiety. At the end of the essay, Yalom writes: So deep do they run that Lad never considered them prejudice. That’s why I was surprised, remember, when my hairdresser massaged my scalp. Memories of her father permeated these flashbacks.


I couldn’t promise more honesty than I was willing to 9 6 Fat Lady give. 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 the fat acceptance folks who could be dismissed as defensive. Besides, this is me, this is the way I am. She got the point quickly. She felt her loss as never before and, over a two- week period, wept almost continuously. The imagery and depth of the dream brought home to me how far she had come.