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How Actor Jonah Hill Healed His Food Problems


The documentary, Stutz, will touch hearts and go a long way toward healing the mind of anyone with eating problems, weight concerns or low self-esteem. Actor Jonah Hill wrote and directed this film about his long-time therapist, renowned psychiatrist and author, Dr. Phil Stutz (not to be confused with TV’s “Dr. Phil”). 

From the notes I scribbled on scrap paper watching the Netflix film: “I keep thinking of how Stutz’s teachings could help heal my clients, blog readers and Facebook followers. I was awed at how open, honest, and vulnerable Hill was, telling the world who he was below his public persona. I ached hearing Stutz’s sad life story and felt buoyed at the amazing man he became in spite of childhood suffering and developing Parkinson’s.” 

Hill made this film to honor Stutz who helped him heal from over-eating, poor body image, and low self-esteem and to share with others “the powerful tools” Stutz uses to lift clients out of depression, anxiety, and depressed self-worth. Stutz starts out explaining that “the 3 aspects of reality are pain, uncertainty and work.” Sit with that a minute those of you who use food or anything else to escape painful emotions. You can’t duck and cover: it’s part of life. Ditto uncertainty, which is an emotion we can’t run away from and need to learn to manage. And then there’s the value of work and the fantasy of not having to do it but getting what you want any way. It won’t happen. Ever. 

So again, three givens: pain, uncertainty and work. In their conversations, we see how this therapist helps his client tolerate these emotions and practices what he preaches. Stutz teaches Hill exercises to manage pain and uncertainty and value work. This is what all therapists do, but Stutz has a particular approach which seems to work wonders. At least it does with Hill and it’s obvious the two respect and love each other. 

A few things one or the other said jumped out at me. One is that when parents tell children to diet (even with loving intention), they’re saying there’s something wrong with them and kids internalize this defective view of themselves. Another is people believing that success and status can make childhood shame disappear. Stutz calls shame the “glue that holds the universe together” which is another way of saying that we bond in the trenches. Plainly put, shame and vulnerability are what connect us to each other on the deepest level. And by sharing our shame it does eventually dissolve it.

Did I mention how funny this documentary is? It’s not a downer. It’s an upper. So, enjoy and learn from it!