For most people, lifting weights is a healthy part of a balanced life. But for some men, the pursuit of the body beautiful can spiral into a dangerous obsession.
When we think about people with a distorted body image, it’s tempting to jump straight to the stereotypes. Most classically, we might think of the young girl with anorexia, staring in the mirror and convinced she’s fat. Despite being extremely thin, to her mind she’s never thin enough.
We’re less likely to think of a weightlifter at the gym, who from the outside looks like the pinnacle of health. For sure, his training regimen and carefully portioned meals require unusual amounts of discipline and focus. But if there’s anything more harmful going on, it’s unlikely to be obvious to anyone else.
Unfortunately, a small but significant proportion of these men are dealing with muscle dysmorphia – a little-known condition in which sufferers feel like they’re never big or muscular enough.
As well as being psychologically debilitating, muscle dysmorphia can be physically damaging. Many sufferers push through injury or over-exercise in pursuit of the perfect body. There have also been a few tragic cases in which young men have died as a result of anabolic steroid misuse.
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