A Case of a Health Nut: Pros and Cons

The only mission and meaning of his life is to be healthy.
To be healthy, he insists all you need is surfing, sex, parenting, and most
importantly, run away from civilization. That was the message of his life and
the essence of his philosophy: worship to health and ignore civilized life.

This case was published by Kate Meyers in the AARP Magazine
recently. The article provided many details that we could use to evaluate the
pros and cons of this experiment.

The sensational aspect of this case was that this Jewish
medical doctor from a wealthy and respected family, a Stanford graduate, at the
age 38 decided to drop his practice, civilization and spend the next 50 years
on the beach of Honolulu surfing and eating fish. At the age of 86, he is
still in excellent health, eating just fish and fruits. During this time he
never paid bills and never received them. He eats twice a day, sleeps 8 hours a
night and has sex three times a week with his 75 year old wife who adores him.
The couple has nine happy and successful children and 17 grandchildren.

All of this sounds sensational and it is a success story.
The man has a philosophy, “back to nature”, and lives by this philosophy which
is admirable. He tries to prove that a person does need much to be happy, and
does not need civilization to survive. His point is that civilization is bad
for your health. His experiment with his life choices proved his point.

Now when we know all of the “pros” of this experiment, if we
read this article carefully there are many details demonstrating a less
glorifying picture. Let’s talk about the “cons” of this lifestyle.

Dr. Paskowitz could not find himself until the age of 38. He
felt negative about taking money from patients because he did not feel that he
is really helping them. There were very clear indications that he was a person
who had difficulties in adjusting to society’s rules. Instead of looking for
ways to be a better doctor, he decided to run away from society. Everything
needs be by his rules to make him comfortable.

His life became organized by the laws of a cult. Like in any
cult, there was a charismatic leader: he was very charismatic and his wife and
“pupils” (children) worshiped him.

The only problem was that this charismatic person was the
tyrannical ruler in the family – everything was strictly by his rules at their
so-called home (where 9 people lived in a cabin for four). When the children
were unhappy and raised their voice, he did not hesitate to use physical
punishment. His only daughter until age 16 did not know that she is a girl and
she was not allowed to eat much to keep her body fat below 15%. Since childhood
she developed an eating disorder. She and her brothers never went to school and
were educated at home in the way He allowed. His believed “under-eating” is
the main principle of health, and was completely obsessed about it. He used to
say that if a bird were 50% overweight she would not be able to fly.

Kids were raised “free” as long as they followed his rules.
According to their comments he ruled as a monarch of his kingdom, leader of his
sect, a tyrant of the household.

He was exactly the same in the Surfing Camp he led that is
carrying his name. Some students worship him but some of them hate him.

Thus, what is the result? He is healthy and happy, but every
child of his ran away in their teens, surviving on the street in unfamiliar
cities, and made their own way to society. They fortunately became very
successful people, but is it due to his Spartan training, or is it despite of
his tyranny? Was his home a warm home for free and healthy birds, or did his
children fly away from this wild prison?

Dr. Dorian Paskowitz did achieve his goal: he is healthy at
age of 86. But he achieved this by pure egoistic ways, running away from any
responsibilities for himself and used brutal suppression of the wills of
others. His wife, Jillian, agreed to be 100% submissive but worries that if she
survived her husband, who is a decade older, she would rely only on her

Besides a questionable life style, his philosophy is also
very questionable. Dr. Paskowitz did not read anything new and he was stuck on
the ideas of the last century about a strict vegetarian diet and “BACK TO
NATURE” Spartan-type rules. Is running away for civilization the best and only
way to stay healthy? Of course, when I am in Colorado on the ski slopes I feel
happy and healthy. When my wife is on the Florida beach she feels happy and
young. Does it mean that we have to drop everything and do only what we want to
keep ourselves away from stress? In the ideal world, yes.

But, let me ski for a month and I will miss the “real life
stresses”. After one week on the beach, my wife is looking to come back to
“troubles”. I personally could testify as a physician, that I know persons who
are still healthy at age 86 after spending several years in a concentration
camp, or have worked very hard and lived a life full of stress.

I do know persons who are centurions, but working hard,
drinking wine all their life and eating a large amount of meat and fat. Dr.
Dorian Paskowitz’s very interesting experiment proved to be good for him and we
are very happy for him, but we have many “cons” in recommendation of his
lifestyle as a prescription for health.

The bottom line is: it is not necessary to be a “health nut”
and go to extremes to live a long and healthy life. To each their own and we
all need to find what works best for us. What do you think?

Ref: AARP Magazine. March/April 2007