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650 Pound Virgin: Can Weight Loss Heal Emotional Scars?


Heal FoodDavid Smith is the previously suicidal "650 Pound Virgin" who was tormented by his classmates for years. Without surgery, David Smith lost over 400 pounds in 26 months, but did David Smith, the 650 Pound Virgin, also lose the psychological scars that surely resulted from being bullied during childhood? TLC will be documenting David Smith's journey in a series called The 650 Pound Virgin, and I hope the documentary covers the issue of psychological scars.

David Smith's psychological damage is actually quite present, despite the weight loss, because he admits to being fearful about approaching women -- a fear that sounds a lot more than just the normal jitters a man might have about approaching an attractive woman. Recently, David Smith was interviewed by TODAY's Matt Lauer about The 650 Pound Virgin documentary, and David Smith actually didn't say if he was still a virgin. But whether or not 32-year-old David Smith is still a virgin, isn't the issue.

In fact, what's wrong if a 32-year-old man is still a virgin? Think of how great this should be to the woman he decides to marry: She will be his very first, and she will be making love to a man who's clean, fresh and not used; she does not have to worry about AIDS or other venereal diseases. However, TLC may have struck gold by titling David Smith's journey, "The 650 Pound Virgin."

Virginity aside, David Smith certainly has to be suffering from serious psychological issues, even though his weight is now normal. David Smith says he was molested by his "best friend" at age 7. It would be interesting to know how old this "best friend" was. David Smith turned to food to deal with this violation. Apparently, he did not report it to his parents.

When kids keep sexual abuse a secret, they are far more likely to suffer serious psychological scarring, keeping it a secret for years. Parents need to always ask themselves, "Does the way I treat my child make him feel that he could come to me about ANYTHING in the whole wide world? Does my child admire me so much, that if he were ever molested, he'd immediately tell me? Does my child think that I am so powerful, that no pedophile's threats of hurting me could ever sound convincing to my child?"

When my cousin was 5, her 14-year-old first-cousin-once-removed pulled her pants down and touched her genitals. She bolted from the bedroom and immediately told her parents. Imagine the mental scarring she would have suffered, had she not felt empowered by her parents to share trauma with them, and instead, kept it a secret for years. She went on to flourish through childhood and is now in medical school. The "650 Pound Virgin" kept his abuse a secret and went on to disintegrate into hundreds of pounds of fat and despair.

David Smith wrote in his biographical sketch, "I was full of shame." He added, "I have been spit on; I have had dirt clots, rocks, bolts, basketballs, books, even feces among other things thrown at me. I started to hate people. Nobody wanted to be my friend. I didn't even want friends anymore, I just wanted to be left alone."

The physical abuse ended come high school, but the ridicule persisted and became so unbearable that David Smith dropped out at age 17. I doubt that any weight loss or personal training program could restore David Smith's self-esteem, self-worth, and ability to forge healthy relationships with people. But it's a start. It may take years before the 650 Pound Virgin achieves full healing of his soul.

The "650 Pound Virgin" may have been permanently damaged in this area, even though superficially, David Smith presents as self-confident and brand new, ready to take on life.

Shame on parents who don't create a nurturing and secure enough relationship with their child, such that their child immediately reports to them sexual abuse. Shame on parents who create a relationship with their child such that their child becomes a bully at school and spits on fat kids.

The 650 Pound Virgin will also be a lesson to 250 pound people who feel they have no option other than risky gastric bypass surgery. If David Smith, the 650 Pound Virgin, could pull off losing 400 pounds with healthy diet and a commitment to exercise, then this is the standard for many other obese people who feel they have run out of options.

I look forward to watching David Smith in "The 650 Pound Virgin, " premiering July 12 at 10 pm Eastern.

Published by Jill C. Horton

Freelance writer, rewriter, editor and proofreader for fitness print magazines and fitness/medical Web sites; ghost writer for fitness/medical Web sites and miscellaneous sites. To hire me for the highest ca...  View profile

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