Mitchell Harris, Ph.D. Psychologist View Entire Blog

Obesity as Self-Defense

I just saw a remarkable woman. She has recently had gastric bypass surgery and as she was losing weight she was growing more and more anxious. I took a history. It came out that she had been raped some years ago. She started gaining weight after the rape. I formed a hypothesis and asked her if she thought she had gained the weight to make herself less attractive and thus less likely to be raped [In reality rape is not a sexual crime but a violent, power crime]. When I asked this question the light when off for the woman. This is exactly what she had done, although she had never consciously realized it. Now she had become anxious because she was becoming thinner and thus more attractive and thus more in danger--at least in her own mind.

I treated her anxiety with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a particularly powerful technique. The EMDR treatment focused on the unresolved trauma of the rape. In one session her anxiety disappeared. . No, I'm not kidding, this is what happened. That's how powerful EMDR is. Not everybody is "cured" in one session, but I've seen many people whose symptoms go away in one session.

My client left, free of anxiety and free to continue getting thinner and healthier.