Body Image Issues in Endocrinology
This chapter explores the nature of body image and other psychosocial concerns that may develop for some individuals with a select number of endocrine disorders, including short stature, growth hormone deficiency, precocious puberty, as well as Turner's and Cushing's syndromes. Because these disorders negatively affect physical appearance, it is reasonable to hypothesize that they will also negatively affect overall self-esteem and body image functioning. Unfortunately, however, much of the endocrine disorder literature does not specifically evaluate body image functioning, though there are numerous studies describing general psychosocial dysfunction in the form of depression, social isolation, and anxiety. While these psychosocial problems might be secondary to body image concerns, many other possible explanations for such symptoms must be considered, especially the role of biological variables that are particularly relevant to consider in the context of endocrine function.
Body image experiences are also clearly influenced by social factors, as documented in the chapters in this volume by Tiggemann, Kearney-Cooke, Tantleff-Dunn and Gokee, as well as Cash and Fleming. There is increasing evidence that the psychological responses to endocrinological conditions such as "normal short stature" and Turner's syndrome may also reflect the negative views of family members, peers or partners. Such negative social responses can easily result in negative self-concept, body image concerns, and social isolation, each of which can have profoundly negative effects on many areas of psychological and social functioning and overall quality of life.
On the other hand, in some (admittedly rather rare) cases, there may be positive social biases associated with the physical anomalies resulting from