You’re SORRY? Oh fuck you.

Dr. Peter Attia thinks about his former patient often, the woman who came to him in the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital one night seven years ago.

She was obese and suffering from a severe complication of Type 2 diabetes, a foot ulcer, which required an urgent amputation. At the time, Dr. Attia admits, he silently judged her. If she had only taken better care of her health, maybe exercised more and eaten less, he thought to himself, this never would have happened to her.

But a few months ago, in a TED talk, Dr. Attia stepped onto a stage and offered a few words to his former patient: “I hope you can forgive me.”

WHAT THE FUCK?  Why should she forgive you?  You’re just another judgmental asshole in a nice long line of judgmental assholes.  Is it really such a stain on your self-image that someone might not worship you as the all-perfect person you want to be?  Why should she spend any pity or compassion on you?

“As a doctor, I delivered the best clinical care I could, but as a human being, I let you down,” Dr. Attia, his voice breaking, said in his talk. “You didn’t need my judgment and my contempt. You needed my empathy and compassion.”

Wow.   Just … wow.   He thinks his “judgment and contempt” did not prevent him from delivering the best clinical care?  Or is he admitting that the “best clinical care I could” might not be the best clinical care?

I still don’t see why he thinks an apology from just one doctor might MATTER at this point.  Maybe it would.  Maybe pigs would fly, I don’t know.

Apparently Attia’s now looking into research on whether “the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around“.  Interesting.  Did he read some genetic research on type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Attia’s insight was informed, in part, by the startling discovery a few years ago that despite paying close attention to his diet and exercising frequently, often for hours at a time, he had developed metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. He had made all the right lifestyle choices, he thought, and yet he was overweight and on a fast track toward obesity and diabetes.

Oh for fuck’s sake.   Dr Perfect is SHOCKED, SHOCKED to discover his body is not 100% under his control at all times.  OMG, this is a REVELATION.

Sources:

NY Times article on Dr Attia, where I pulled most of the quotes from.

Dr Attia’s TED talk.

25 thoughts on “You’re SORRY? Oh fuck you.

  1. Yeah…that’s pretty much how I felt when I watched that video. I started it thinking it might be interesting…and then it turned into a load of self-aggrandizing bullshit. Yes, it’s true, you should have compassion for all people, not just the thin and pretty ones. What an amazing breakthrough.

  2. I’m going to draw a parallel here. I believed absolutely everything I was taught about religion, heaven, and hell as a child. I ignored evidence and arguments to the contrary. Then when I was in college, one of my best friends was a fine human being and an atheist. That shocked me to the core, and for the first time I seriously started to doubt some of my beliefs.

    Two of my brothers were radical political conservatives as teenagers and in their early 20s. Then through no fault of their own, they were out of work during the 2008 recession and ran into some medical problems when they had no insurance. One got back to work and got injured at work and had to take his employer to court to get his medical expenses paid. Their political views are now independent with some left-leaning inclinations.

    I am not saying it’s right to be foolishly close-minded. It is not. But I think it’s common for people not to question what they believe about health, religion, or politics until something affects them on a personal level.

  3. “Sorry”? Is that all he has to say? I’m angry and sad, but I can’t work up the rage, since I’m not surprised at this half-hearted apology and his “But I’ve done everything right and now I’m getting teh faaaaaaatz” posturing and handwringing is not new to me. However, I share the “fuck you” sentiment, because silent judgement is still judgement, and it’s not conducive to good medical care.

  4. This type of hate is completely uncalled for. The guy almost broke down in tears giving his talk. His blog is sincere and gives good scientific eating advice that doesn’t assume we are all the same. He’s an ally, not the enemy. We’ve all said and done things we’ve regretted. We’ve all fallen victim to social-brainwashing.

    I joined wordpress because I found your blog and I thought it was inspiring. Reading this, I’m just extremely disappointed. I can’t believe that someone who has experienced the type of closed-minded hate that we get just because we’re fat, would then turn around and spread that kind of hate to another human being just because he’s . . what? because he’s a doctor? because he’s thin?! because he’s a semi-celebrity now? He’s a human being and deserves a little compassion just like everyone else.

    • We’ve all said and done things we’ve regretted. We’ve all fallen victim to social-brainwashing.

      Yes. I have apologized in the past, to the person in question. I have changed my actions and behaviors. But I don’t have much patience with confession-as-spectacle, in part because I grew up with many empty apologies.

      It’s okay not to like something I write. Yes, I’m angry and sarcastic, because I really don’t see how he expects his words now to change anything for his previous patients. I also don’t feel that an abuse victim owes their abuser forgiveness.

      I do want to point out, though, that I did not email Dr Attia my comments directly. I did not check whether he has a website or comment on his TEDTalk. I vented here, in my space, because my response is very tied to my life as a fat person. To me, he comes off as patronizing, as one who has seen the light. (Never mind that Big Fat Lies covered how metabolic fitness doesn’t correlate with body size in the 90s.) Others may not see it that way, and that’s certainly not a bad thing to discuss.

      • How is what you’ve done here any different from his indiscretion? He judged her and held her in contempt without getting to know her or think about the deeper issues that may be behind her current state. You have done the exact same thing to him, except instead of keeping it to yourself, you’ve blogged it.

        If you did bother to go to his blog you would have seen that he was uncomfortable sharing such a private story, but that that’s what the TED talk people coached him to do. They told him to try to connect with his audience emotionally, rather than just share facts and data. He wasn’t apologizing as a spectacle; he was apologizing because that was how he personally connected to the issue. His hope wasn’t to garner pity or to make himself seem like a hero; his hope was to change the way people, especially doctors, approach those with illnesses that correlate with obesity. He knows his apology does nothing for the woman he judged, but hopefully by giving it, it will do something for other people who find themselves in a similar situation – perhaps even you or I.

          • You can justify your rant however you’d like but the bottom line is that you’re contributing to the same climate of hate that allows people to justify their hate against people of size.

            • So you don’t see a difference between expressing anger at an oppressor — in this case, doctors who treat fat people begrudgingly, if at all — and society’s disdain for the oppressed?

              BTW: I grew up denying anger and distancing myself from my feelings so as to “buy in” to my parents’ reality. One thing I learned in therapy is that trying to deny or fast-forward through anger is not healthy. I *DO* try to be careful where I express it.

              • I’ll reiterate my comment above. All I see is justification for spreading hate. Your anger at a broken system and your identity as “the oppressed” does not give you the right to lambaste one man who is also a victim of that same broken system. He never would have had to discover this “shocking revelation” through his own personal experience if medical schools or medical journals promoted a more balanced approach to obesity.

  5. What are they telling these people in medical school? That is what worries me. How come there are so few that think independently? If I won the Lotto, I think I’d sign up for some medical school classes and see what they are teaching.

    Do they weed the independent thinkers out of medical school?, I am tending to think yes they are. With this guy he at least repented and said he was wrong, though I understand how upsetting it is, trust me, I have met medical professionals where you know as a supersized person your life is not as valued and it’s petrifying. I burst out in tears the day I got my diabetic diagnosis, knowing that I would be seen even more “at fault”. I believe that there has to be something about diabetes and insulin resistance that MAKES people fat not the other way around. Of course some environmental factors like the bad food is having the genes express even more so, but I have seen too many fat people who started off prediabetic and then gained weight even though they kept trying to lose and do what was right.

  6. I get your anger. His clinical style is off putting at points. His apology on behalf of his field is an eon late.

    On the other hand, after years of NOT getting through to my Ob/Gyn I am hopeful that this guy may do it. I have told her that I disagree with her thoughts on obesity and her insistence on discussing BMI, and she just doesn’t hear it. She dismisses me (and I hate to think what she does to her obese patients). I keep trying to get through, however.

    I especially like his bruise metaphor.

    I hope at some point you can re-listen and hear without anger. There is progress happening here.

  7. Living 400 lbs, I am sorry for the false liberalism expressed by sloggingon. I have dealt with this recently myself, and it is really difficult to listen to someone talking about compassion for people who either have tremendous power (doctors) or are threatening other people with violence (what I went through with an e-pal). It is everyone’s right to be angry about the terrible things that have happened to them or others. I did not hear you threaten this doctor nor wish him ill, just justifiable sarcasm about his mea culpa.

    I think we can all agree that people are brainwashed and that SOMETIMES through personal experience they begin to think for themselves, but I know of a doctor who has suffered tremendous personal tragedy from her diabetes and still has no compunction about making fun of fat people. If personal tragedy were enough to wake people up from their stupor, what a different world we would be living in!

    • I don’t know if it’s “false liberalism”. I do, however, agree with a lot of what you’ve said. Ragen Chastain has a great post in which she talks about how we, as fat people and as fat activists, are often denied anger. Anger, after all, disqualifies us of the right to have an opinion and be heard because now we’re “rude”. It’s the same argument that’s always applied to feminists. But the fact is that we have a right to be angry. We have a right to be disgusted with the manner in which this doctor treated his fat patient. Although I’m glad that he has rethought some of his views and is forthcoming about the mistakes he has made, that in and of itself is not just cause to deny us the right to be frustrated both with this man and with a medical establishment that runs rough-shod over the Hippocratic Oath which they supposedly uphold in their dealings with fatties.

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