A Health Crisis That Strikes Men Of All Ages
Trying everything from compulsive weight lifting to steroids, more and more boys and men are taking the quest for physical perfection beyond the bounds of normal behavior. The Adonis Complex — the groundbreaking book that first gave a name to this phenomenon and sparked nationwide interest in the subject — identifies for the first time the symptoms and warning signs of this dangerous problem, including:
- An obsession with exercise, sometimes to the exclusion of all other activities
- Binge eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia
- The abuse of steroids, muscle-building supplements, and diet aids
But perhaps more important, it offers readers an explanation of the underlying causes of the Adonis complex, together with hands-on advice for those who have experienced body obsessions themselves, or who see these problems in a boy or man they love.
The Adonis Complex brilliantly demonstrates that body obsession is an equal-opportunity menace and that men who seek physical perfection are in an insidious double bind. The “male body image industry” (think Calvin Klein underwear ads) creates impossible ideals of beauty and body, yet men–unlike women–are prohibited from discussing how they think and feel about their bodies.
The image industry is displayed in fascinating detail–for example, photos of the new buff makeovers on GI Joe and Star Wars action figures. The book offers stunning evidence of men’s silent suffering to achieve Adonis-like beauty: secret dietary rituals, hair transplants, penis enlargement, cosmetic surgery, and abuse of steroids, ephedrine, fat burners, and diuretics. Two clinical disorders, “body dysmorphia” and “bigorexia,” a chilling inverse of anorexia, in which men continue to think they are tiny even when they are alarmingly muscled, are also introduced. The authors’ prescriptions are as well targeted as their descriptions.
The final chapters offer compelling advice in vivid case studies, self-tests, and one of the author’s own stories of recovering from an eating disorder. Parents of growing boys and men trapped in the mirror will find a clear, cognitive behavioral program that allows them to set more realistic goals for their bodies and minds. –Barbara Mackoff
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