Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Critical Comments about the Body and Muscle Dysmorphia Symptoms in Collegiate Men

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Critical Comments about the Body and Muscle Dysmorphia Symptoms in Collegiate Men

Article excerpt

The goal of the current study was to examine the relationship between critical comments that men recall others making about their bodies and their current level of muscle dysmorphia (MD) symptoms. It was expected that higher levels" of MD symptoms would be associated with remembering comments, severity of the comment, and negative emotions associated with the comment. Participants were 118 college men. Results indicated that no significant differences were found on MD symptoms between participants who recalled comments about their bodies and those who did not recall such comments. However, analyses revealed significant relationships between severity level of the comment and MD symptoms. Also, more negative reactions to the critical comment were associated with higher levels of MD symptoms.

Keywords: muscle dysmorphia, body satisfaction, body dysmorphic disorder, socialization, peer pressure

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In the last 15 years, research has focused much more on body dissatisfaction in men and the associated behavioral disturbances than it had previously (Cafri & Thompson, 2004). One particular disorder that relates to the behavioral dysfunctions in men in regards to "improving" their bodies is Muscle Dysmorphia (MD). This disorder is characterized as a person being preoccupied with his or her level of muscularity to a degree that causes distress and impairment in social and occupational functioning (Pope, Gruber, Choi, Olivardia, & Phillips, 1997). Individuals suffering from this disorder spend much of their time lifting weights and focusing on their diets which, in turn, negatively affects their relationships with others and their occupational lives (Pope et al.). MD is a disorder in which an individual has dissatisfaction with his or her current body type and has a strong desire to increase his or her musculature (Grieve, 2007). People with MD strive to achieve their ideal body type by excessively lifting weights and eating large amounts of protein-rich foods (Olivardia, 2001). It is also not uncommon for these people to use drugs or dietary supplements to increase their muscle mass (Olivardia).

Olivardia (2001) proposed diagnostic criteria for MD. First of all, the person must have a preoccupation with his or her body not being sufficiently lean and muscular. This preoccupation must cause the person significant distress or impairment in several areas exhibited by at least two of the following four criteria: (1) the individual gives up important activities because of the need to maintain his or her exercise schedule or diet; (2) the person feels distress when his or her body is exposed to others, or the person attempts to avoid these types of situations altogether; (3) the preoccupation with his or her body causes the person to have marked impairment in an important area of functioning, which usually is a social or occupational area; and (4) the person continues to exercise despite a knowledge and understanding that undesirable physical or psychological consequences may occur as a result. In addition to these criteria, the individual's preoccupation with his or her body must include a focus on being too small and not muscular enough, but not on being fat.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PERSONAL HEALTH AND RELATIONSHIPS

Compared to those without MD, those with the disorder report greater body dissatisfaction and spend more time each day thinking about their muscularity (Choi, Pope, & Olivardia, 2002). They often attempt to conceal their appearance, check mirrors, use steroids, and sacrifice social activities in order to exercise (Olivardia, Pope, & Hudson, 2000). Individuals with MD are concerned about body size and symmetry, have dietary constraints, use pharmacological aids and dietary supplements like anabolic-androgenic steroids and other prohormones or ephedrine, often attempt to hide their bodies because they view themselves as small and weak (what is called physique protection), and experience exercise dependence (Lantz, Rhea, & Mayhew, 2001). …

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