A little known but very real disease, muscle dysmorphia is doesn't get too much attention from most people. Also known as the "opposite" of anorexia, muscle dysmorphia is a condition in which a person becomes fixated on the idea that he/she is not muscular (or "big") enough. Because of this strange phenomenon, muscle dysmorphia is also known as "bigorexia". Read more about this strange disorder as we divulge it below.
Muscle Dysmorphia should not be confused with anorexia. While the two conditions are body image disorders, muscle dysmorphia has many possible causes and variations that are completely unrelated from that of anorexics. Anorexics don't operate in the same way that bigorexics do.
There are various explanations for what causes muscle dysmorphia. The cognitive theory seeks to explain muscle dysmorphia as a product of mental vicious cycles. These cycles, according to the cognitive model, are formed via negative thoughts that eventually become ingrained in the individual's psyche. Thus, the victim is the ultimate product of negative thinking and sensitivity. Related to that first explanation, the cognitive-behavioral theory of bigorexia sees the disorder as the product of a hyper-masculine society, in which men are expected to be unrealistically large, tone, and strong. The biological explanation suggests that sufferers might have low levels of serotonin. Lastly, the psycho-dynamic theory proposes that bigorexics have unresolved problems (such as childhood trauma or poor self-esteem) that manifest themselves in the form of muscle dysmorphia.
There are comorbidities. A comorbidity is a condition that exists simultaneously with another. Comorbidities of bigorexia include depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. It's not their fault, but every disorder comes with its price, even muscle dysmorphia.
A bigorexic is more likely to do some risky activities. As one might expect, a bigorexic is highly susceptible to abuse steroids; this is more so than the risk of doing so for the average joe/jane. Bigorexics, in extreme cases, are also prone to using site enhancement oil ("synthol"). Synthol is a sterile oil that is injected into muscle tissue to make them appear larger.
Bottom line: muscle dysmorphia is a disorder that comes in a wide variety of forms, and with a wide variety of explanations. While most would probably blame the hyper-masculinity espoused by modern Western society, others believe the problem is more about the individual and not society as a whole. Muscle dysmorphia, regardless of the cause, plagues people all over the world and requires much more research into its preventative care.