I'm a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh, working on an ethnographic research project on a community centred around the Paleolithic diet and lifestyle. I also teach undergraduate Sociology and Social Policy.
In my spare time I spend a lot of my evenings and weekends at debating competitions, arguing in various seminar rooms around the continent. I also enjoy picking up heavy things and putting them down again.
Muscle Dysmorphia is a mental disorder often considered the opposite of Anorexia Nervosa
Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) is a newly recognised subtype of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a mental illness characterised by an obsessive occupation with a particular aspect of one's appearance. Often referred to as "bigorexia", MD symptoms include a preoccupation with being small and underdeveloped, with too little muscle and too much fat.
The disease is increasingly common in men, and is particularly common amongst male bodybuilders, weightlifters and steroid users. Sufferers have only recently been taken seriously, in light of recent revisions to psychiatric diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders which recognise Body Dysmorphic Disorder as an illness of its own.
Sufferers often find that they become deeply distressed when they are unable to complete their exercise routine, and find themselves socially isolated due to a punishing workout schedule and inability to eat normal food, pushing them further out from family, friends and coworkers who may not understand their condition.
They may also find themselves turning to steroid use as a solution to their problems. They may obsessively count calories or macronutrients and spend excessive amounts of time in the gym, even when injured. They may also take care to cover themselves up with large, baggy clothing, even in warm weather, to hide their features, as well as compulsively checking their physique.
Recognition of MD is part of a trend towards understanding and attempting to take seriously mental illness in men, particularly with respect to male body image. The articles pinned to this board should give an idea of the kinds of experiences had by men with MD, as well as some of the psychiatry behind the disorder.
Abstract: The current study reports the development and psychometrics of a figure rating scale with leanness and muscularity dimensions and a 13-item questionnaire assessing symptoms associated with muscle dysmorphia (MD). Three separate samples of men and women completed the muscle dysmorphic disorder inventory (MDDI), the bodybuilder image grid (BIG) or both to measure 1-week test-retest reliability, internal consistency, convergent and divergent validity and valid placement of BIG figures along interval scales of body fat and lean muscle mass. The MDDI and MDDI subscales (drive for size, appearance intolerance, and functional impairment) had good reliability, internal consistency, convergent and divergent validity. The BIG had good to excellent test-retest reliability, good convergent and divergent validity and validity as an interval scale. Implications for characterizing body image disturbance in men and benefits and limitations of the measures are discussed.
Pub.: 20 Dec '07, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Men overestimate the degree of muscularity that is attractive to women, and women overestimate the degree of thinness that is most attractive to men. Consistent with the thesis that sociocultural input influences such body type preferences and beliefs, we postulated that magazines aimed at a male audience would portray a more muscular male body ideal than would magazines aimed at a female audience. Systematic comparison of popular magazines (Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness) revealed that the ideal male body marketed to men is more muscular than the ideal male body marketed to women. We introduce the Physical Trait Overvaluation Hypothesis, which proposes that gender-specific media fuel emphasis on certain body parts in within-gender prestige competitions. The resulting competitive escalation creates a disconnect between the preferences of one gender and the personal aspirations of the other.
Pub.: 20 Dec '07, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Muscle dysmorphia - a pathological preoccupation with muscularity - appears to be a form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) with a focus on muscularity. However, little is known about muscle dysmorphia in men with BDD, and no study has compared men with BDD who do and do not report muscle dysmorphia. To explore this issue, we reviewed the histories of 63 men with BDD; we compared those rated as having a history of muscle dysmorphia with those who had BDD but not muscle dysmorphia in several domains. The 14 men with muscle dysmorphia resembled the 49 comparison men in demographic features, BDD severity, delusionality, and number of non-muscle-related body parts of concern. However, those with muscle dysmorphia were more likely to have attempted suicide, had poorer quality of life, and had a higher frequency of any substance use disorder and anabolic steroid abuse. Thus, muscle dysmorphia was associated with greater psychopathology.
Pub.: 01 Nov '06, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: The current study reviewed relationships between gender roles and (a) eating pathology, (b) body dissatisfaction, and (c) muscle dissatisfaction among men via meta-analysis. Moderators of sexual orientation and type of gender role measure were also investigated. Results revealed the relationship between femininity and eating and body-related variables did not significantly differ from zero. Sexual orientation moderated the relationship between femininity and muscle dissatisfaction (i.e., femininity was negatively related to muscle dissatisfaction for heterosexual but not gay men). Masculinity was negatively associated with eating pathology and body dissatisfaction. Type of masculinity measure moderated the relationship between masculinity and body dissatisfaction (i.e., trait-based measures produced a negative association, multidimensional measures yielded nonsignificant relationships). Type of masculinity measure produced a cross-over interaction when examining muscle dissatisfaction (i.e., trait-based instruments yielded a negative association and multidimensional instruments revealed a positive relationship). Findings highlight the salience of masculinity in men's eating and body concerns.
Pub.: 19 Oct '10, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: In the context of the lack of nosological clarity surrounding muscle dysmorphia, this paper aims to compare the symptomatic profile of muscle dysmorphia and anorexia nervosa in males whilst using measures sensitive to indexing male body image concerns. Twenty-one male muscle dysmorphia patients, 24 male anorexia nervosa patients, and 15 male gym-using controls completed the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire, the Muscle Dysmorphia Disorder Inventory, the Compulsive Exercise Test, and a measure of appearance-enhancing substance use. Men with muscle dysmorphia and anorexia nervosa demonstrated widespread symptomatic similarities spanning the domains of disturbed body image, disordered eating, and exercise behaviour, whilst differences were consistent with the opposing physiques pursued in each condition. Furthermore, correlational analyses revealed significant associations between scores on muscle dysmorphia and eating disorder measures. The present findings provide moderate support for the notion that muscle dysmorphia may be nosologically similar to anorexia nervosa.
Pub.: 07 Mar '12, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to validate two measures of muscle dysmorphia (MD) into the Italian language. The sample included three participant groups: (1) competing bodybuilders, (2) non-competing bodybuilders, and (3) non-bodybuilding controls. In general the Italian versions of the scales showed psychometric utility that is consistent with the original instruments. The severity of MD was greater for competing bodybuilders than non-competing bodybuilders and controls.
Pub.: 24 Apr '12, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Though researchers are beginning to examine body-related talk in women (often referred to as fat talk), little work has examined how men talk about their bodies with peers. The two studies presented in this article explore body talk among U.S. college men. First, an online survey examined the frequency with which college men engage in negative body talk, the content of these conversations, and the body image variables associated with engaging in this type of talk. Negative body talk in men was associated with drive for muscularity, eating disordered behavior, and appearance investment. Study 2 experimentally examined the effects of hearing male peers engage in negative body talk. Hearing muscle talk or fat talk caused decreased state appearance self-esteem and increased state body dissatisfaction. The correlates and consequences of negative body talk among men appear no less troubling than those identified among women.
Pub.: 16 Mar '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Two studies examined the threatened masculinity theory of male body dissatisfaction, which posits that threats to masculinity result in increased muscle dissatisfaction. In Study 1, a masculinity threat was followed by tasks examining confidence in physical ability and perceptions of current and ideal body shapes. Results showed that men who experienced a masculinity threat reported lower confidence in their physical ability and perceived themselves as less muscular than men who experienced an affirmation of their masculinity. In Study 2, men were asked to report their intention to increase muscularity and their appearance anxiety following a threat to masculinity. Results showed that men reported lower appearance anxiety and drive for muscularity when their masculinity was threatened than when their masculinity was affirmed. This apparent contradiction can be explained by noting that men may be motivated to deny appearance concerns following a threat to masculinity, as such concerns are equated with femininity.
Pub.: 23 Mar '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Set shifting difficulties and weak central coherence are information-processing biases associated with thinness-oriented eating and body image pathology in women. However, little is known about the relationship between these processing biases and muscularity-oriented eating and body image pathology. We investigated whether set shifting and central coherence were uniquely related to the drive for muscularity and muscularity-oriented disordered eating in a sample of 91 male undergraduates. Participants completed the Wisconsin Card Sort Test, the Matching Familiar Figures Task, the Drive for Muscularity scale, and a modified Eating Disorders Examination-Questionnaire. Results indicated that set shifting difficulties and weak central coherence were both uniquely positively associated with the drive for muscularity, and that set shifting difficulties were uniquely positively associated with muscularity-oriented disordered eating. Results are discussed with regard to the male experience of body image and eating pathology, and in regard to muscle dysmorphia.
Pub.: 18 May '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Existing content analyses of pro-eating disorder web content have focused on thinness-oriented eating disorder pathology. With the increasing prevalence of muscularity-oriented body image concerns, we conducted a systematic content analysis of 421 active pro-muscularity websites including static content websites, blogs, and online forums. Emergent coding methods were utilized (Cohen's kappa range=.78-.88), and eight distinct thematic categories were identified: rigid dietary practices (26.2%), rigid exercise rules (18.4%), the broader benefits of muscularity (16.1%), the encouragement of the drive for size (15.9%), the labeling of non-ideal body (11.4%), marginalizing other areas of life (6.1%), muscle enhancing substances (3.3%), and minimizing medical risk (2.6%). Pro-muscularity websites provide explicit material surrounding potentially non-healthful muscularity-oriented eating and exercise practices. Clinician awareness of the potentially non-healthful behaviors involved in the pursuit of muscularity may enhance the detection and treatment of male eating disorders, in particular.
Pub.: 03 Nov '15, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: We examine the relationships that internalization, need thwarting (NT), and drive for muscularity (DFM), along with their interactions, had with weightlifting, muscle dissatisfaction (MD), and muscle-related-worry (MRW). A sample of 552 men (MAge = 20.5 years, SD = 3.1) completed the Psychological Need Thwarting Scale, the Internalization subscale of the male version of the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire, the Drive for Muscularity Scale-Attitudes subscale, the Male Body Attitudes Scale-Muscularity subscale, the Body Change Inventory-Worry subscale, and an inventory assessing weightlifting behavior. DFM significantly predicted weightlifting, MRW, and MD. Internalization significantly predicted weightlifting and MRW. NT significantly predicted weightlifting and MD, and its relationship with MRW approached significance. The interaction terms did not predict weightlifting or MRW. The NT/DFM and NT/Internalization interaction terms predicted MD. These results highlight the role of NT in predicting appearance variables in men.
Pub.: 25 Jun '16, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Muscle dysmorphia (MD) is characterized by the pathological pursuit of muscularity and leanness, which includes eating- and exercise-related practices. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to identify correlations of MD symptomatology in natural bodybuilders. An online survey assessing diet, supplementation and training practices, and MD and eating disorder symptoms was completed by male bodybuilders with recent experience competing in a drug-tested competition. Sixty participants (age 29.6±7.1 years) completed the survey. Eating disorder scores (β=.298), rate of pre-competition weight loss (β=.307) and number of competitions (β=-.257) were significant predictors of MD. The association between the EAT-26 and MDDI underscores the salience of disordered eating pathology in presentations of MD. Supporting this, greater rate of pre-competition weight loss, which may reflect disordered eating practices, is also associated with MD symptomatology. The inverse association of competition experience suggests novice bodybuilders may display increased MD symptomatology.
Pub.: 24 May '17, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Muscle Dysmorphia (MD) has recently been conceptualized as the male form of Eating Disorders (ED); although, it is not currently classified as an ED. The current study compares etiological models of MD symptomatology and ED symptomatology. It was hypothesized that sociocultural influences on appearance (SIA) would predict body dissatisfaction (BD), and that this relationship would be mediated by self-esteem (SE) and perfectionism (P); that BD would predict negative affect (NA); and that NA would predict MD and ED symptomatology. Two-hundred-forty-seven female and 101 male college students at a midsouth university completed the study. All participants completed measures assessing each of the constructs, and multiple regression analyses were conducted to test each model’s fit. In both models, most predictor paths were significant. These results suggest similarity in symptomatology and etiological models between ED and MD.
Pub.: 31 Jul '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Muscle dysmorphia has been described as a subtype of body dysmorphic disorder in which an individual experiences severe body image disturbance related to muscularity. The current case is of a 20-year-old man who describes a history of muscle dysmorphia in which the nature of the body image concern is related to leanness (i.e., muscularity in the absence of body fat), as opposed to increasing muscle mass, which is how muscle dysmorphia has typically been characterized in the literature. The case illustrates the need to consider this additional facet of body image when diagnosing muscle dysmorphia.
Pub.: 18 Oct '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Objective: Differences for gender, weight, exercise frequency and type for eating disorder symptoms and body image disturbance were examined. Further understanding of male body image disturbance was the primary goal. Method: Males (n=200) and females (n=233) completed measures to assess eating disorder symptoms and multiple components of body image disturbance. Measures were modified to be more appropriate for males. Results: Females endorsed higher levels of eating and body concerns. Males were divided between a desire to maintain, increase or decrease their size. Higher weight and exercise frequency was associated with increased body image concern and eating disorder symptoms, particularly for males. Exercise frequency was also linked to higher self-esteem for males. Males who used muscle-enhancing supplements indicated increased social pressures and concern for appearance, and a desire to increase their size. Discussion: The findings support that weight and exercise frequency affect eating disorder symptoms and body image disturbance. Males appear to exhibit body image disturbance, which is related to their current weight status. Results support the call for further development of measures that more adequately address male concerns.
Pub.: 18 Oct '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to determine whether the muscle appearance satisfaction scale (MASS) shows acceptable psychometric properties in Mexican bodybuilders.A total of 258 Mexican male bodybuilders were recruited. Two self-report questionnaires, including the MASS and drive for muscularity scale (DMS), were administered. Six models of the latent structure of the MASS were evaluated, using confirmatory factor analysis with maximum likelihood, considering robust Satorra-Bentler correction to estimate the fit of the models to the data.Similar to the original MASS, the series of CFA confirmed that the Mexican version was well represented with the 17-item five-factor structure, which showed a good model fit [Satorra-Bentler Chi-square (109, n = 258) = 189.18, p < 0.0001; NNFI = 0.91; CFI = 0.93; IFI = 0.93; RMSEA = 0.05 (0.04, 0.07)]. Internal consistency was estimated with McDonald's omega, which was acceptable for the MASS (0.88), and their subscales (0.80 to 0.89), except for muscle checking scale (0.77). Test-retest reliability analysis showed stability of the MASS total as well as of the subscale scores over a 2-week period (intraclass correlation coefficients = 0.75-0.91). Construct validity was demonstrated by a significant positive correlation between MASS and DMS results (r = 0.75; p = 0.0001). These results were similar to those of previous studies, which demonstrate the scale's usefulness.Our results support the suitability of the MASS and its subscales to measure muscle dysmorphia symptoms in Mexican male bodybuilders.
Pub.: 04 Mar '17, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Pressures for men to conform to a lean, muscular ideal have, in part, contributed to eating disorder and muscle dysmorphia symptoms, yet few programs have been developed and empirically evaluated to help men. This study investigated the acceptability and efficacy of a cognitive dissonance-based (DB) intervention in reducing eating disorder and muscle dysmorphia risk factors in men with body dissatisfaction.Men were randomized to a two-session DB intervention (n = 52) or a waitlist control condition (n = 60). Participants completed validated measures assessing eating disorder risk factors preintervention, postintervention, and at 1-month follow-up.Program ratings indicated high acceptability. The DB condition demonstrated greater decreases in body-ideal internalization, dietary restraint, bulimic symptoms, drive for muscularity, and muscle dysmorphia symptoms compared with controls (p values <.02; between-condition Cohen's d = .30-1.11) from pre- to postintervention. At one-month follow-up, the DB condition demonstrated significantly lower scores for all variables (p values <.03; between-condition d = .29-1.16). Body-ideal internalization mediated intervention outcomes on bulimic and muscle dysmorphia symptoms.Results support the acceptability and efficacy of The Body Project: More Than Muscles up to 1-month postintervention and should be examined against active control conditions.
Pub.: 10 May '17, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Studies using traditional screening instruments tend to report a lower prevalence of eating disorders (EDs) in men than is observed in women. It is therefore unclear whether such instruments are valid for the assessment of ED in males. Lack of a formal diagnostic definition of muscle dysmorphia syndrome (MD) makes it difficult to identify men at risk. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of ED and MD in male university students of Buenos Aires.A cross-sectional, two-stage, representative survey was of 472 male students from six different schools in Buenos Aires, mostly aged between 18 and 28 years. The first stage involved administration of self-report questionnaires (Eating Attitude Test-26; scores ≥15 indicate "at risk" status). In Stage 2 students at risk of developing EDs were evaluated with a clinical interview, the Eating Disorder Examination (EDE; 12th edition). Two control students were interviewed for every at risk student.The prevalence of EDs among university male students was 1.9% (n = 9). All participants with an ED presented with illness classified as eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Using the Drive for Muscularity Scale (DMS) with a 52-point threshold we identified possible MD in 6.99% (n = 33) of the sample.The prevalence of ED detected in this study is comparable with previous findings in male populations, and below that observed in female populations. However, the prevalence of possible cases of MD resembles the total rate of EDs in women. Characteristics associated with EDs and MD in men are also discussed.
Pub.: 05 Sep '15, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: The nature and extent of stigma toward individuals with anorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia remains underexplored. This study investigated attitudes and beliefs likely to be conducive to stigmatization of individuals with these conditions.Male and female undergraduate students (n = 361) read one of four vignettes describing a fictional male or female character with anorexia nervosa or muscle dysmorphia, after which they responded to a series of questions addressing potentially stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs toward each character.Characters with anorexia nervosa were more stigmatized than characters with muscle dysmorphia, female characters were more stigmatized than male characters, and male participants were more stigmatizing than female participants. A large effect of character diagnosis on masculinity was observed, such that characters with anorexia nervosa were perceived as less masculine than characters with muscle dysmorphia, and this effect was more pronounced among male participants. However, no significant corresponding effects were observed for femininity.Females with anorexia nervosa may be particularly susceptible to stigmatization, especially by males. Anorexia nervosa and muscle dysmorphia are perceived as "female" and "male" disorders respectively, in line with societal gender role expectations, and this stigmatization is tied more strongly to perceptions of sufferers' masculinity than femininity.
Pub.: 14 Nov '13, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: Muscle dysmorphia is a relatively recently identified psychological condition that, since its inception, has been variously conceptualized as an eating disorder and subsequently as a type of body dysmorphic disorder within the somatoform disorders. This review aims to inform and encourage ongoing debate surrounding the diagnostic placement of this disorder.We present a review and synthesis of the extant literature with a view to informing future decisions regarding the conceptualization of muscle dysmorphia.The validity of muscle dysmorphia as a clinical entity has been empirically demonstrated. While the condition bears little semblance to somatization as currently conceptualized, the research suggests a strong conceptual similarity with anorexia nervosa. However, future research needs to utilize more appropriate measures of male eating disorder pathology. Muscle dysmorphia is also inclusive of obsessive compulsive features that are typical to those seen in eating disorder presentations.We suggest that muscle dysmorphia be reanalyzed through the lens of an eating disorder spectrum. Recognition of muscle dysmorphia as an eating disorder may offer more clinical utility in recognizing the male experience of eating disorder pathology and also help reduce the number of current male cases falling into the EDNOS category.
Pub.: 24 Sep '10, Pinned: 30 Aug '17
Abstract: In the course of several ongoing studies, the authors have encountered men and women who display a form of body dysmorphic disorder in which they become pathologically preoccupied with their degree of muscularity. This condition, which the authors have tentatively termed "muscle dysmorphia," may cause severe subjective distress, impaired social and occupational functioning, and abuse of anabolic steroids and other substances. Epidemiologic data suggest that muscle dysmorphia, though rarely recognized, may afflict substantial numbers of Americans. The authors summarize the features of muscle dysmorphia, present several case examples, and offer proposed diagnostic criteria that may be useful for subsequent research.
Pub.: 15 Jan '98, Pinned: 30 Aug '17