The risk of muscle dysmorphia and the perception of change in retrospective, current and ideal self-image – preliminary study
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Submission date: 2014-05-30
Final revision date: 2014-09-22
Acceptance date: 2014-09-22
Online publication date: 2014-11-25
Publication date: 2014-11-25
Health Psychology Report 2015;3(1):24–34
A specific type of causes of extended training and gym exercises is muscle dysmorphia. People with this disorder think that their current appearance is not satisfactory, and the focus on the perceived defect is great. The perceived defect usually is connected with body and muscle mass and body shape. According to the conceptual model of dysmorphia proposed by Grieve (2007), the aim of the study was to verify the thesis that the risk of muscle dysmorphia is associated with the negative self-image generalized based on physical appearance.

Participants and procedure
Twelve women and 18 men, fulfilling the criteria of exercise addiction according to Pope, filled out the ACL scale, answering the questions concerning what kind of person they were before training, who they are now and what kind of person they would like to be. Also, they answered freely the questions concerning their feelings about training.

A significant difference between perceived retrospective and current self-image was observed. The people examined became, in their opinion, more self-confident, more dominating and independent, and they described themselves in more positive categories. However, there still is relatively a lot of aggression and anxiety. The analysis of the ideal self-image indicates that the presented image performs – at least partly – the defence mechanism role. This is also confirmed by the analysis of the statements of the subjects examined, especially the question about the benefits resulting from the training.

The results confirm the role of the negative self-image in the risk of muscle dysmorphia. The exercises change self-assessment, but they do not solve the problems that were the reason for it. The characteristics of these problems in further research will facilitate therapy planning.