A defender’s work is never done, apparently, because new (to me) clueless voices keep spouting off with the same ignorant arguments.
Yes, I know. I have to develop some opinions someday.
This time, the spouter is Prof. John Blundell, who apparently is head of the department of psychology at the University of Leeds in Britain. “Is addiction an excuse to overeat” is the headline of his BBC op-ed, which squarely establishes the turf he stumbles through.
Let’s start here: Self-diagnosing an addiction is not an excuse to continue. On the contrary, it is an admission of having a serious condition that’s going to require atypical measures to overcome. And even if some people do use it as an excuse, that doesn’t disprove the existence of the condition.
Next: No one ever said that all or substantially all of globesity is due to food addiction. The fact that that the two are not synonymous also doesn’t disprove the existence of the condition.
”The use of the term food addiction is a step towards medicalisation and implies that normal human social behaviour is pathological,” Blundell says.
The back end of the statement first: The professor clearly fumbles when he refers to “normal social human behavior,” because it’s not. Part of what defines addiction is repeatedly acting in irrational, self-destructive ways, despite swearing off time and again.
And then the front half: I agree completely that “the use of the term food addiction is a step towards medicalisation,” except he bemoans it while I welcome it. Illnesses should be medicalized.
Here’s what makes it an illness: Just as with alcoholism and drug addiction, food addiction is marked by a biochemical sensitivity to some substances in some people, producing unhealthy effects and behaviors that don’t occur in the majority of the population.
There’s nothing psychological about that, although certainly, psychology also plays into overeating for food addicts as well as other problem eaters.
Blundell complains about “an over-simplification of a very complex set of behaviours,” but is guilty of it himself when he overlooks or discards the biochemical dysfunction that makes overeating, for some, more than only a psychological issue.