Philosophies of Behavior


People characterize their life struggles in many different ways, because individuals see and understand things differently, and make their own comparisons to other arenas of life. It is interesting to take a step back and see the problem of overeating, for example, from a more cosmic perspective.

These excerpts are from the book Creativity, written by a philosopher known as Osho.

Remember two words: one is action, another is activity… Their natures are diametrically opposite… For example, you are hungry, then you eat — this is action. But you are not hungry, you don’t feel any hunger at all, and still you go on eating — this is activity.

That last sentence is an accurate description of binge eating, of “the sensation of being the pawn of an ungovernable force.” It is the robotic, mechanical motion of behavioral addiction, the irresistible compulsion to insert the hand in the chip bag and convey a load to the mouth and chew and swallow while the hand travels to the bag again, and inexorably returns to the mouth with another load. It is sheer activity.

You are hungry and you seek food, you are thirsty and you go to the well. You are feeling sleepy and you go to sleep. It is out of the total situation that you act. Action is spontaneous and total.

Activity is never spontaneous, it comes from the past. You may have been accumulating it for years, and then it explodes into the present — and it is not relevant.

Again, this sounds familiar to people caught up in binge eating. It is not relevant, because the body does not actually need nourishment. If the body needed fuel, feeding it would be action. But no, this is just the frenetic activity of a behavioral addiction. It comes from the past, rooted in old needs, rejections, abandonments, deprivations, and hurts, and it explodes into the present.

But the mind is cunning and will find rationalizations for the activity. These rationalizations help you to remain unconscious about your madness.

The second document under review is a lengthy (120-pages, 8 authors) discussion paper from the McKinsey Global Institute, a research center which appears to have a finger in every commercial pie. Titled “Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis,” it was issued in 2014, but it addresses matters that are eternal. The challenge here is to find similarities, if any, to the philosophy of Osho.

The world is full of theories about how to quell obesity, and the Institute set out to discover which ideas are doable and cost-effective. In their paper, the researchers designate two types of intervention: conscious and subconscious.

Before going further, consider the extreme utility provided by a “comprehensive portfolio of interventions.” People exist in large variety, and convincing a middle-aged woman is different from convincing a toddler. In other words, these are not only the types of things that need to be known by practitioners who hope to impact obesity. These are also the types of things that advertising agencies have to know, or else go out of business.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Action vs. Activity,”, undated
Source: “Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis,”, November 2014
Photo credit: David Orban via Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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