A link between the absence of a father “as a positive male role model” and symptoms of muscle dysmorphism in men has been established.
- Men with muscle dysmorphia develop an obsession centered on the fact that their body is not lean and muscular enough.
- The absence of a father “as a positive male role model” is associated with an increase in symptoms in patients.
- This can be explained by the development of vulnerable narcissism, which is characterized by low self-esteem and self-centeredness.
More common in men, muscle dysmorphia is a psychological disorder characterized by an obsession with body size and muscle mass. People with this disorder can spend hours doing strength training exercises and following strict diets in an effort to achieve certain physical results. However, despite these sacrifices, adults with muscle dysmorphia still have a distorted body image. They may describe parts of their body they hate as “ugly, unattractive, deformed, hideous or monstrous”, according to MSD Manual.
Muscle dysmorphia: the absence of a father is associated with an increase in symptoms
“Research has yet to examine the links between muscle dysmorphia, narcissism and relationship with the father,” said a team of researchers. In one study, she hypothesized that “in men, a negative relationship with the father would lead to an increase in symptoms of muscle dysmorphia due to the weakening of self-esteem that stems from the absence of the father as a positive male role model”.
In their work, the scientists recruited 503 men between the ages of 18 and 78. Participants had to fill out a questionnaire on muscle dysmorphia, narcissism and the relationship with their father for nine months. According to the results, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differencesthe absence of a father “as a positive male role model” is linked to an increase in muscle dysmorphic symptoms in men.
Vulnerable narcissism: men develop it because of bad relationships with their father
This link can be explained by the development of vulnerable narcissism in people with this psychological disorder. Vulnerable narcissism is characterized by low self-esteem and self-centeredness, coupled with feelings of insecurity and anxiety. In this case, patients may crave validation and attention from others, but they may also feel ashamed when they do not receive it.
“These findings alert physicians to the fact that muscle dysmorphic symptoms in some patients may be a way to protect against low self-esteem. Practitioners should consider exploring people’s feelings and perceptions of their fathers to deal with this psychological disorder”, can we read in the conclusions of the study.