COMMENTARY | WTRF-TV out of Wheeling, W.V., tells a story this week about an obese Bellaire, Ohio, man whose body had fused to the chair he sat in for two years. His body was caked in feces, urine and maggots. The man, who wasn’t identified, has died, the station reported.
Questions resound: “How could anyone get like that?” Here’s how.
The body of the “obese Ohio man in the chair,” as he’s being called, had to be removed via a hole cut in the wall. His body had fused to the chair he sat in for two years. Human flesh will grow around and mesh with any object with with it has constant contact, particularly something made of fabric. Sitting in the same position for two years, he developed extreme “bed sores” with continually broke, festered, and clotted. The chair materials fused into those sores.
He lived with two roommates, including his girlfriend who brought him food. It was the girlfriend who found him unresponsive and called for emergency support. The girlfriend is being faulted for allowing “the man in the chair” to get that way.
Obesity, like, alcoholism, is an addictive disorder. It’s about control issues, self-control and lack thereof. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is founded on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) principles, slogans and 12-step program. The first step of AA, OA, and Al-Anon is “Admitted we were powerless over alcohol (food) and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Some versions read “admitted we were powerless over people, places and things.” 12-step programs teach that change must come from within the individual. Those who try to change the addict’s behavior are destined to becoming unhealthy and co-dependent themselves.
So how did “the man in the chair” get to the point where his feces, urine and maggot covered body was welded to a chair? His landlord says she had no idea how bad things were because he was always covered in a blanket. She says that he was “once an active person.”
Of course he was. He was likely a normal child and student. He may have spent much of his adult life working, interacting and enjoying life. He may have been overweight, but not necessarily obese. Look at Marlon Brando; the heartthrob of America died in obesity. Look at Liz Taylor. America’s sweetheart was grossly overweight.
But then something happened to this once vital man. Job loss, unemployment (Bellaire was badly hit in the economic slump), divorce, relationship issues. Maybe a combination. Some people can weather adversity. Others can’t.
Morbid Obesity is almost always a response to morbid depression. Lack of concern for hygiene, health and personal safety are a result of depression and despair. People in despair wish for anonymity; they allow themselves to sink into non-person status. Living vicariously through television, computer and video games shelters people from having to face the real, potentially cruel, world. By allowing himself to get so obese, “the man in the chair” virtually ensured that he would never go out or see anyone and few people would come to see him.
The only person who has any control over obesity and depression is the addict. We cannot fix each others’ issues. We can offer loving support and empathy. Parents can set healthy role models for children. We all have emotional health issues. By working our own program, we help each other. Here are resources to help morbidly obese people and those who love them.
Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes from 22+ years parenting four children and 25+ teaching K-8, special needs, adult education, ESL, life skills and homeschool. She writes for the Yahoo! Contributor Network about parenting issues.
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