Site name and logo

Muscle dysmorphia

Pronounced /ˈmʌsl dɪsˈmɔːfɪə/Help with pronunciation

Sometimes known as bigorexia, this could be a new psychiatric disorder. Research in the US and in Britain among bodybuilders suggests that some of them exercise obsessively because they have a false image of themselves. No matter how much they work out they still feel puny, leading them to hide from other people or wear baggy clothing to disguise their body shape. Of those interviewed in a recent study about 10 per cent of male bodybuilders and 84 per cent of female ones had symptoms of the disorder. It appears to be an inverted anorexia, in fact another name for muscle dysmorphia is reverse anorexia nervosa, and is a special case of a more general and better-known condition called body dysmorphic disorder. In that, individuals believe that there’s something wrong with their body, perhaps that their nose is too big, ears the wrong shape, or that their breath smells, and sometimes become sensitive about their imagined affliction to the point of shutting themselves away from other people. The word dysmorphia on its own usually indicates a genetic condition in which a part of the body has grown out of proportion. The study of these conditions is dysmorphology and the adjective is dysmorphic, which is also the noun for a person with one of the psychiatric varieties of the disorder.

Support this website and keep it available!

There are no adverts on this site. I rely on the kindness of visitors to pay the running costs. Donate via PayPal by selecting your currency from the list and clicking Donate. Specify the amount you wish to give on the PayPal site.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 06 Dec 1997; Last updated 10 Jan 1998