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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Mon Jan 20, 2014, 04:21 AM

5. I hope the following article will contribute to the discussion in this topic.


Dysmorphia: Male Anorexia

Ian Lee

Page 1 of 2

Many women suffer from anorexia, and now men have a similar disorder. It's called dysmorphia, and if you body build, you may know what I'm talking about. The worst thing about this disorder is that some guys might have it and be completely unaware.

what is dysmorphia?

Muscle dysmorphia is the opposite of anorexia. Unlike anorexia, which makes one believe that they're overweight, dysmorphia bequeaths the illusion that one does not have big enough muscles.

People with the illness constantly imagine that their body needs to change even though it is fine by normal standards. It is still a relatively new psychological disorder; doctors at Brown and Keele University in England discovered this disorder not too long ago, but it is definitely real.

Dysmorphia is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects a person's perception of their body image. Most men who have this psychological illness are rather muscular when compared to the rest of the population, but they none-the-less wear baggy clothes and refuse to take their shirts off in public out of fear of being ridiculed because of their (anticipated) small size.

It can be quite serious and needs to be treated. Dysmorphia might not have as direct an impact on a man's health as anorexia, but its repercussions can still have grave effects on a person's life. Some of the symptoms can cause irreparable damage to the body and the negative impact it can have on one's social life can take years to fix.

do you have dysmorphia?

Men who have this illness will spend countless hours at the gym every day, lifting weights obsessively. They will always check to see if they gained mass, and constantly complain that they are too thin or too small and need to bulk up.

They will be fixated on eating the right things and adjust their entire life around gaining mass. It might sound like virtually every guy at the gym, but dysmorphia is an extreme case of bodybuilding on the brain.

Men with this condition exaggerate every aspect of bodybuilding to the point of delusion. Eating the right food will not simply be a conviction; it's going to be a phobia. Time spent away from the gym will cause anxiety and stress, and life outside the gym will suffer.

Social life, job opportunities, work, dates, and anything else that can interfere with time spent at the gym will take a backseat. In extreme cases of dysmorphia, men will over-workout until they damage their muscles, sometimes permanently.

And then, they turn to steroids...

Page 2 of 2

Finally, they will often ponder using illegal steroids. Using steroids does not necessarily mean you have dysmorphia. But if you are in great shape, are not planning on doing any competitive bodybuilding, or don't "need" to bulk up for any professional reasons, yet still feel the need to take steroids, then you might have a problem.

If any of this rings a bell, don't freak out just yet. Some guys might have all those symptoms and still not have dysmorphia. It all depends on how much bodybuilding controls your life. If you can't let go of the gym as easily as you might want to due to extreme feelings of anxiety unlike the negligible anxiety you feel when you stop an old habit then you should look into the matter.

developing dysmorphia

Men are more likely to develop the disorder than women. As you may have guessed, dysmorphia is a fabrication of today's physical stereotypes. Culturally, males are supposed to be big and strong. Men in magazines, movie heroes and male comic book characters are often depicted as strong, perfect specimens, so like anorexia, the stereotype influences the gender it refers to.

The disorder preys on men's insecurities. With the "perfect" male stereotype becoming more and more cartoonish and clearly defined, some men feel they need to match the images that constantly bombard us. Scientists predict that as bodybuilding increases in popularity, more and more people will develop dysmorphia.

treating dysmorphia

Like anorexia, dysmorphia is complicated to treat. Patients usually have a hard time admitting they have a distorted image of their body. The first step, and usually the most important one, is making a person see their body for what it actually is; that it is fine and doesn't need to be changed.

The best treatment for dysmorphia is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of therapy forces the patient to analyze his problem using logical steps. The process forces the person to rationalize his condition and find a cure that will suit him best. Certain drugs can also help speed up the recovery process.

In either case, family members, friends and peers will have to convince the person that he has a problem and help him surmount the ordeal. Pointing out all the negative consequences his condition has brought about is one of the many different techniques used in treating this disorder.

Consult a mental health counselor, psychiatrist and other professionals if you know anybody who has this disorder. Men with dysmorphia will rarely seek out help themselves.

still not mainstream

Dysmorphia might still not get the same level of attention as anorexia, but as time goes by, more and more people are becoming aware of this relatively new mental illness. Remember, it is best to consult an expert when dealing with such problems. Dysmorphia can have dire consequences, so stay sharp and don't be afraid to help out a friend in need.




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