I was watching a program on TV tonight where they had a forum discussing obsessive exercising and bodybuilding. In the crowd and contributing to the discussion was a clinical psychologist who said that once someone is going to the gym for three hours or so a day, six days a week, it’s no longer normal behavior. Understandably, as someone who’s usually in the gym for four to five hours a day, that statement absolutely blew me away.
The fact is, the medical profession in general has enough trouble even trying to decide what’s healthy and what isn’t. And with the mind being so much more complicated and less understood than the body, it’s ridiculous for a psychologist to come on TV and make an ignorant statement like that about what’s normal and what isn’t!
Even though I agree that young people are getting more and more obsessed with their body image, I think psychologists need to be very careful about categorizing people, as they seem to have an irresistible tendency to do.
If someone is obsessing over their looks and investing hours every day in the gym just trying to look good for their own ego, then sure, that’s a bit excessive. But hey, to each their own! We’re all individuals, and that’s their prerogative. If they were watching TV or playing video games for three hours a day instead, then would he consider them to be not normal? I doubt it!
And what about the people who are in the gym for a specific purpose, like bodybuilding, figure competition, sports, Olympic competition, and so on? Do they come under the category of “not normal” too?
I think it’s really sad that people like this psychologist can’t understand anyone who has enough passion and drive in their life that they stand above the crowd. If they had their way the world would be full of boring, average “normal” people dressed in grey.
But here’s the most hypocritical part. Society loves world champions and role models. It looks up to them, admires them, is inspired by them, and envies them. But on the other hand it labels extreme people as unhealthy, crazy, obsessed, not normal, and so on . . . not even realizing that these two groups of people are one and the same!
Here’s a news flash . . . extraordinary people aren’t created by living ordinary lives! Stick that in your psychology book!
“I think psychologists need to be very careful about categorizing people, as they seem to have an irresistible tendency to do.”
I think YOU need to be careful about how you categorize people. Psychologists don’t all do this, you just see the ones in media who do. If you make your judgment of all psychologists on this one case you see, you’re ignorant. There’s enough stigma around psychology and psychologists, we don’t need one more bleeding heart making them seem like the bad guy. Do you really think psychologists go into this profession because they are insecure and want to make overgeneralizations about people? Don’t bash people for making overgeneralizations and then do the exact same thing yourself. There ARE people who work out an unhealthy amount because they ARE insecure and they DO have a sort of eating disorder. These people are not eating healthy as a body builder would. They are likely binging and then working out and usually for many hours and obsessively, meaning that they fail to take care of other important aspects of their lives in order to work out. THAT is not healthy, THAT is a disorder.
“If someone is obsessing over their looks and investing hours every day in the gym just trying to look good for their own ego, then sure, that’s a bit excessive. But hey, to each their own! We’re all individuals, and that’s their prerogative. If they were watching TV or playing video games for three hours a day instead, then would he consider them to be not normal? I doubt it!”
You can’t say “to each their own” when people die from this sort of obsession everyday, when they neglect their children or friends and family to work out instead. And they may consider watching tv or playing video games for three hours a day to be normal but they also agree that this IS NOT HEALTHY! The point you make is ridiculous without knowing the HUGE amount of research and articles that talk about how physically and mentally unhealthy it is to watch tv/play video games for large amounts of time each day. Most things in life require moderation, just remember that.
Thanks very much for your honest feedback Anita, but you’re mistaken to think I’m making a judgement of all psychologists based on this one person. I think psychologists have a very difficult field of study and many of them do a fantastic job. And I say that despite the fact that I’ve known several people who have gone to psychologists for treatment and got no help whatsoever. Like all professions, there are good and bad individuals.
The criticism I had was of this one individual. No I don’t think psychologists go into the profession because they are insecure, and I didn’t say that, my words were “it’s really sad that people like this psychologist are so insecure within themselves…”
You’re right, some people do have eating disorders and exercise to the detriment of some other area of their life, including their health or family, but not ALL people. Some are just committed to exercising, just like a musician is committed to music, and might do it for hours each day. Maybe someone is in the gym a lot because they compete. That was my point, this psychologist stated, “once someone is going to the gym for three hours or so a day, six days a week, it’s no longer normal behavior.” That’s a blanket statement, meaning whatever reason you’re in the gym that long, if that’s you, you’re not normal, like there’s no excuse for doing it. That’s the kind of statement that doesn’t do psychologists any favors. I don’t think a generalization like that can be defended. As you said, one has to look deeper and see their motivation and what effect it’s having on their life before you can make a judgement like that.
As far as categorizing people goes, it seems that there are constantly new syndromes and names given to behaviors as time goes on, I think the day will come when everyone has one syndrome or another, and I don’t think that’s really healthy. It might help science to study human behavior, but it makes everyone think there’s something wrong with everyone. We’re all individuals, and we can’t all live and act by a narrow set guidelines – that’s not normal! 🙂
Anyhow we obviously see this situation from different viewpoints and that’s fine, but as I said I have nothing against psychologists and don’t mean to put them down in any way.
As for your closing statement that most things in life require moderation, I’m sure that most world champions and people who have excelled in any area of life will probably disagree with you! 🙂