This is an extraordinarily well-written autobiography of a man who as a boy developed the strategy of becoming a binge-eater in order to find some pleasure in an otherwise fairly desolate world. The book tells of how it took him thirty roller-coaster years before he found true happiness and was able to break the destructive habit.
Binge eating shares some similarities with bulimia but binge-eaters do not normally go in for the bouts of purging associated with bulimia. There is usually a strong psychological reason for the binges and this is particularly obvious in the author's case. His parents were members of the World Wide Church of God and this encouraged an atmosphere of total obedience and regimentation in the home. There was a history of physical abuse in his family with fathers meting out severe punishments to sons and the author and his brothers were the latest victims to receive vicious beatings sometimes for extremely minor transgressions. As quite a young boy he found food a major consolation and he became adept at scrounging second and third helpings followed by successful scavenging as he helped to clear up after meals.
As a young man his weight ballooned, he found it difficult to get clothes to fit him and he suffered from the thigh sores so common among people whose legs are so fat that there is constant abrasion. It was the need for a girlfriend that first impelled him towards slimming. A sensible diet and an exercise regime got him into good shape. He was helped enormously by the fact that his father had left home for another woman so domestic life had improved beyond all recognition,
Not only did he get a girlfriend but he also discovered that he was a good runner and he became a successful amateur athlete. However, even though his father had left home and the author had found the courage to leave the World Wide Church of God, nonetheless his self-destructive behavior was more difficult to leave behind. I won't spoil the story for you; suffice it to say that he goes from the heights of being a model with his weight at 179 pounds to the lows of a succession of low-paid jobs with his weight touching 268 pounds. The author humbly relates all the ups and downs -- a broken marriage, drug abuse and all the failed career moves along with the occasional highs. What I will do is to reassure you, the reader, that the story has a happy ending thanks largely to an enormously supportive and loving relationship in which his partner helps him to break with the self-destructive cycle of binge eating.
The book is well written. It does not profess to be an academic tome; it is a thoroughly good piece of contemporary autobiography which gives the reader a valuable insight into the sort of trigger that can start off binge eating disorder and what sort of life a binge eater is likely to have. It is the perfect book for people to read if they think that they are succumbing to the disorder. If I were a therapist, it would certainly be one of the books on my shelf.
© 2008 Kevin M. Purday
Kevin M. Purday has just completed his fortieth year as a teacher and has recently returned to the U.K. after being principal of schools in the Middle East and Far East. His great interests are philosophy and psychology.