Fit to Die: Men and Eating Disorders

By Olivardia, Roberto | International Journal of Men's Health, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Fit to Die: Men and Eating Disorders


Olivardia, Roberto, International Journal of Men's Health


Fit to Die: Men and Eating Disorders by Anna Paterson. Bristol: Lucky Duck Publishing, 2004, 121 pp.

It still surprises people, even some in the mental health field, that eating disorders and other body image disorders not only affect millions of females, but also affect boys and men today. An anorexic or bulimic male certainly goes against the stereotype of the typical patient. After all, we hear of female celebrities, such as Karen Carpenter who died of anorexia complications, but we do not hear as much about Elton John, who struggled with bulimia for years. This is why Anna Paterson's book, Fit to Die, is a necessary read. Paterson does a great job outlining the breadth of the problem. She begins by discussing the scope of the problem of men and eating disorders, emphasizing the triggers and personality traits associated with this group, as well as providing a history of this issue.

The next five chapters explore eating or body image disorder individually, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive overeating, muscle dysmorphia, and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). The eating disorder chapters outline the physical, emotional and behavioral characteristics of each disorder, while the muscle dysmorphia and BDD chapters contain questions that readers can ask themselves to self-diagnose.

Chapter 8 discusses the reasons why men with these problems find it so difficult to talk openly about their struggle, highlighting how masculine socialization works against men who suffer from these disorders. This stigma is the backbone of why many are not aware that this problem exists for men. The author devotes Chapter 9 to depression in men, with brief sections on contributing factors, experience, and treatment of this mood disorder. This chapter was distracting, however, since it diluted the book a bit in relation to the issue at hand. A brief discussion of the role of depression in eating disorders could have been included in one of the other chapters. This chapter also could have tackled in depth an element of the topic of men and eating disorders. It interrupted the book's rhythm. …

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