The Muscular Ideal: Psychological, Social, and Medical Perspectives

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muscular ideal, heuristic model, risky behaviors, appearance ideals, history, social influences, body image, performance-enhancing drugs

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In the past decade, societal and interpersonal pressures to attain a heightened level of muscular development have increased exponentially. This book is an attempt to coalesce recent developments into an organized framework to help guide theory, research, and practice in this intriguing area of investigation. In our review of physical and psychological factors associated with the pursuit of the muscular ideal (Cafri et al., 2005), we also provided a model of influences, many of which are examined in detail in different chapters in this book. In our model, pursuit of the muscular ideal is influenced by a variety of factors (e.g., biological, societal, psychological, sports participation). Additionally, this pursuit may drive the individual to engage in risky behaviors, such as the use of appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs or radical dieting strategies (e.g., carbohydrate depletion), to enhance muscularity. The chapters of this book examine in detail the themes and interrelationships outlined in this heuristic model, and we hope that future research will inform and expand on this initial framework. Within the broad chapter categories of coverage, it is possible to discern some central themes that this book examines, including: (a) the complexity of appearance ideals (in general) and the muscular ideal (in particular); (b) the role of history and social influences; (c) the need to rethink conventional measures of body image; (d) the importance of understanding biological and side effects of current (and potential) appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs; (e) the critical need for prevention and treatment methods for clinical disturbance (e.g., body dysmorphia, steroid abuse); and (f) the multiple influences (social, biological, psychological) that drive the pursuit of the muscular ideal. This book is for professionals and nonprofessionals who have an interest in body image disturbance or who work with individuals who may pursue the muscular ideal to the point of impairment (e.g., who seek drugs to augment the appearance or muscularity or show signs of muscle dysmorphia). The chapters are empirically based, and the authors include clear discussions of current research findings and future research avenues. Clinicians will find state-of-the-art guidelines for diagnosis of clinically relevant symptoms and treatment and intervention strategies for adolescents and adults.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

J. Thompson & G. Catfri (Eds.), The Muscular Ideal: Psychological, Social, and Medical Perspectives, American Psychological Association, 265 p.