the Naked Celt (nakedcelt) wrote in bodilyness,
the Naked Celt

  • Mood:


pauraque linked to this highly disturbing story in Prospect magazine. Basically, this attractive teenage girl ("Nia" in the article, though I gather that's a pseudonym) developed schizophrenia, so she went into a psychiatric hospital, where she was prescribed olanzapine. The psychosis subsided, but — prepare yourself, reader, for the grimmest of horrors — there was a hideous side-effect — she... she... she gained weight!

No, really, the writers seem to seriously think that weight gain is a problem comparable to schizophrenia; they go on and on about how beautiful she was, and, worryingly, what an impression said beauty made on the "young psychiatrist" (repeatedly so described) who examined her, and then describe the choice between the psychosis and the extra kilos as a "Faustian pact". I'm not kidding.

Key phrases, emphasis mine:
...the junior psychiatrist was struck by the patient’s beauty: shoulder-length brown hair, slender in hipster jeans and a fitted T-shirt. Apart from her distracted eyes she didn’t look unwell. He felt himself giving her more time than usual, fascinated by the experiences she related...

...One boy of similar age who had been admitted with mania became instantly infatuated with her. His adolescent urges and manic disinhibition were a fertile mix and the staff found him trying every trick in the book to get into her bedroom. It’s remarkable what can be contrived, even in a locked ward. One night, they were found in bed together...

...To see a patient respond to a drug in this way made the young psychiatrist feel like a real doctor. Almost ashamed of himself for feeling this, he noticed that he felt grateful towards Nia—for getting better...

...soon it became apparent that insanity had been replaced by appetite. Within three weeks she put on three stone. Now, for the first time, Nia’s features were being corrupted. She started to take on the shape of many of the chronically mentally ill. Her jawline collapsed below puffed-out cheeks. Her stomach sagged above her jeans...

...The first drug had worked. But the change in her appearance seemed intolerable—and potentially devastating for the self-esteem of a 17-year-old girl. The second drug hadn’t made her fat, but nor had it treated her illness...

...It was likely that the weight gain associated with Olanzapine would be very difficult to treat and that Nia would be fat, if not obese. But more disconcerting to the young psychiatrist was Nia’s apparent indifference to her predicament. While those around her worried about the beauty she had lost, she seemed unconcerned. Was she really as well as her family suggested? Had she really rejoined the image-conscious world of her peers? The dieticians came and went to little effect...

...Nia was herself, but not herself. She blended in, lumpenly...

...For a while the young psychiatrist worried about the consequences of the choices they had made in treating her. They had removed a stigma of the mind and replaced it with a stigma of the body. It struck him as strange that the patient had been the only one not to worry about a loss that the team around her found so tragic. Perhaps it didn’t matter. Perhaps, in fact, this was a merciful side-effect of medication, or even of the disorder itself; one that liberated Nia from the need to live up to the standards of an image-obsessed world.

The young psychiatrist wasn’t sure. The treatment had reversed a Faustian pact in which Nia had been beautiful and mad, and replaced it with another—in which she was fat and sane. But was it really a blessing that Nia seemed to have no conception of what she had lost?
See what I mean? Note particularly how the writers treat the incident with the male mania patient: this is potentially a rape situation, and they laugh it off as a boyish response to her "beauty"... but when she eats a bit more than usual and her body rounds out, that's a disaster worth writing an entire article about.

The more I think about this, the more pissed off it makes me.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic