The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession

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Simon and Schuster, 2000 - Health & Fitness - 286 pages
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In the first book to address a health crisis that is striking men of all ages, three national experts present a frank and explosive look at what men really think and feel about their bodies, offering hope to millions who are suffering in silence.

More than ever, men are struggling with the same enormous pressure to achieve physical perfection that women have dealt with for centuries. From compulsive weightlifting to steroid use, from hair plugs to cosmetic surgery, growing numbers of men are taking the quest for perfect muscles, skin, and hair too far, crossing the line from normal interest to pathological obsession. This new obsession with appearance, known as the Adonis Complex, afflicts boys and men of all ages and from all walks of life. In its more severe forms, the Adonis Complex poses a health threat that is as insidious and deadly as eating disorders are for women and girls. But this groundbreaking book offers hope and help for the men caught in the oppressive cycle of body obsession.

Harrison Pope, Katharine Phillips, and Roberto Olivardia reveal the often hidden signs and symptoms of the Adonis Complex.

  • Weightlifting and exercise compulsions: Their quest for a more muscular body can become so single-minded that men often sacrifice relationships and career goals and may even stunt their emotional and physical development.

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Unlike healthy men, those with body image problems have no idea how they really look -- and obsessively try to fix flaws that others don't notice. Boys as young as six or eight report body dissatisfaction, and as a result many suffer loss of self-esteem or depression.

  • Eating disorders: Several millionmen have suffered from compulsive binge eating or from anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Countless others with milder forms of eating disorders diet and worry about being fat even when they actually look just fine.

  • Steroid abuse: Trying to achieve increasingly unrealistic physical ideals, more than a million men -- including a large number of teenagers -- are abusing steroids. Millions more are buying billions of dollars' worth of "muscle-building" food supplements and diet aids.

    Creating a down-to-earth program for change, the authors introduce two original diagnostic tools. The first, a simple thirteen-question quiz, helps readers identify the extent of their body image concerns. The second, the Body Image Test, helps readers learn how they perceive their bodies and how they think others see them. Using the compelling and insightful stories of many boys and men, the authors address a wide range of topics, from coping with sex and intimacy problems and difficulties at work, to low self-esteem and shame. They also explain how to seek medication treatment and specialized forms of therapy for more extreme cases. With this book, men suffering from the Adonis Complex will have the power to change their lives.


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    User Review  - thehatinthecat - LibraryThing

    This book is an IMPORTANT book. I can't not say that enough. It is an IMPORTANT BOOK. It addresses an under researched and under talked about issue. That of Body Dysmoprhic issues in men. We hear ... Read full review

    The Adonis complex: the secret crisis of male body obsession

    User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

    In the last 20 years, increasing numbers of men and boys have become obsessed with obtaining the perfect body exemplified by body builders, male models, and professional wrestlers. This excessive ... Read full review

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    About the author (2000)

    Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at McLean Hospital. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.

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