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Title: What is the role of shame for male anabolic androgenic steroid users?
Authors: Joubert, Hercules Eli
Supervisors: Melluish, Stephen J.
Award date: 1-May-2014
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Men’s concerns about body image are increasingly paralleled by a growth in the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) (Wright & Grogan, 2000) with motivations for such use including enhanced confidence. AAS users are likely to self-objectify their bodies, which might manifest as persistent body surveillance involving constant monitoring and comparison against “internalised standard(s) of attractiveness with a focus on how one’s body looks rather than how it feels or functions” and may result in feelings of body shame (Parent & Moradi, 2011). Experiences of rank and status judgement following self-other comparisons may affect mood states (Gilbert, 2000). Masculinity fundamentally includes perceptions of rank and status and may result in gender role strain, i.e. the experience of distress men experience when feeling that they do not meet constructs about masculinity they value (Kilmartin, 2007). Psychoanalytic approaches suggest that a perceived failure to ‘measure up’ to one’s ego ideal (i.e. the internalisation of admired aspects of one’s parents) produces tension (Piers & Singer, 1953). This may result in shame which is usually related to visible and concrete deficiencies rather than moral deficits (Jacobson, 1964). Kohut (1971) describes how negative comments from one’s caregivers might ultimately result in low self-esteem. The present IPA qualitative study, involving six male AAS users, produced six themes. The participants identified traumatic experiences leading to feelings of weakness, interpreted by participants as being of lower rank and status. These feelings are defended against by wanting to gain size, which results in an increase of perceived strength and, thereby, self-esteem. This, however, remains fragile due to a somewhat dysmorphic misinterpretation of actual size versus internal experiences of weakness, and ultimately shame. AAS use appears to be both motivated and maintained by shame.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PsyD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Psychology
Leicester Theses

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