Men’s experiences of muscle dysmorphia in the UK
: an interpretive phenomenological analysis

  • Arash Shayegani

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The increasing pressure on men to achieve a muscular body has led men to pursue an unrealistic muscular body whilst experiencing body dissatisfaction and a distorted body image. Despite this, there is limited data on men’s experiences of body image disturbance. Muscle Dysmorphia (MD), a sub-type of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is a form of body image disturbance characterized by a disruptive and excessive preoccupation with muscularity. Previous research has utilized quantitative measures with samples of bodybuilders and undergraduates to investigate MD. The present study utilized Biographical Narrative Interview Method (BNIM) and Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (IPA) to explore the lived experiences of men who have experienced and recovered from MD. Three participants who self-identified to have experienced and recovered from MD were recruited from Facebook support groups. The analysis of the participants’ narratives revealed three superordinate themes of ‘the struggling self’, ‘the desire for muscularity’ and ‘road to recovery’. ‘The struggling self’ theme reflected men’s struggle with their self-esteem and masculine identity as a result of childhood experiences. ‘The desire for muscularity’ reflected men’s distorted body image and the pursuit of a muscular body as a coping strategy with psychological struggles. The theme ‘road to recovery’ represented men’s journey from experiencing a low point in their lives to acquiring new perspectives towards their body image during therapy. The results are presented in relation to the wider literature. Future implications for practice and research are discussed.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTim Gomersall (Main Supervisor), Santokh Gill (Co-Supervisor) & Nadia Ali (Co-Supervisor)

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