November 24, 2009: The Packer

An Invitation To Indulge - The Art of Reverse Psychology

Have you ever had somebody motivate you by placing no expectations at all on you?

If your wife has ever said something like this to you - “You just sit there. I will clean out the garage, go shopping, wash the car and vacuum the carpet so we’ll be ready for your folks visit” - you probably get my meaning.

I got an email this week inviting me to have an interview with clinical psychologist Leslie Landis, the author of the book “The Art of Overeating.” What better timing than Thanksgiving week to have an invitation to indulge?

 The book lists the “Top 10” reasons to be an overeater.

1. Instant gratification saves time
2. Aren't we supposed to end world hunger?
3. Why cut pork when the government won't?
4. Grow the economy and yourself.
5. The U.S.A. can still be No. 1 in something!
6. Excess is a normal American trait.
7. It is good exercise for your jaw.
8. You won't have to fight temptation.
9. Overeaters get a lot of attention.
10. It sure does taste good.

Landis said inspiration for her 140-page, high graphics book came from frustration with her husband’s overeating. “I got to realize this was kind of funny; what was one person’s anxiety was another person’s laugh.”

I asked Leslie if readers “get” the over the top, ironic humor. Perhaps some readers pick up the book with genuine earnestness, hoping for some kind of validation for their excess?

“I think (readers) get it very much; I like to say the only person who would take my book seriously is someone who would want to weigh over 600 pounds,” he said.

To put a fine point on it, Landis said she sees the book as a satire on the diet industry. Considering the relentless advice on how to diet, she said her book is one alternative that gives the freeing advice on how to excessively overeat.

“I think humor can help people see something in themselves and I think that is why comedians point our very human foibles,” she said. “We recognize ourselves.”

Landis observes humor can be very much more effective than shaming people and making them feel badly about themselves. In fact, her husband lost 25 pound by “identifying with overeating behaviors and changing his habits.”

She’s got a point. I know I’ve gotten up off the couch given the proper dose of reverse psychology.

Landis said the book – on sale at Barnes & Noble - was her first but she hopes not her last. Look for another installment in the “Art of” sometime down the road. If you want to get a “taste” of the book, check out the Web site at