Bodybuilding is often unjustifiably associated with narcissism and the bodybuilders are prescribed with a narcissistically personality disorder.
Bodybuilding is not narcissistic – people are. Bodybuilding can’t make people narcissistic if they don’t have the disposition for the disorder or are no longer suffering from the same.
There are many studies that associate bodybuilding with narcissistic personality disorder, and the results are contradictory.
Many researches which are conducted on this topic are not serious and the results just help this stereotype for bodybuilders to be maintained and expanded.
When we talk about narcissism or narcissistically personality disorder I believe that most of you recall to the myth of Narcissus who was in love with the reflection of his face in the water.
So many people come to the conclusion that bodybuilders are narcissists because they love to observe their bodies in the mirror.
Narcissistic disorder is much more than observing in the mirror in the gym and is a serious condition which doesn’t occur only within the gym.
It usually occurs in adolescence and has more features such as:
- A sense of grandeur and importance and confidence (exaggerating their achievements, talents and abilities to be recognized as superior compared to others).
- Obsessed with fantasies of their unlimited success, power, brilliance, body image and sexuality.
- Convinced that they are unique and special and different from others. Because they feel that no one can understand (there is no one superior as them).
- Seeking excitement, attention and confirmation from others.
Shortly, to put a bodybuilder in the category of people with narcissistically personality disorder requires more research and testing by a psychologist for a final diagnosis.
Bodybuilding helps in building the image of yourself (improving self-image) and is of great importance for building confidence. Confidence is key in all segments of life, not only in the gym. High self-esteem is actually what somehow connects people with bodybuilders who have narcissistically disorder.
A survey in 2014 receives such a result, that in bodybuilders and athletes (included various sports) there are people who are more prone to this disorder as opposed to those who were in the control group (not practicing any sport).
Does this mean that all athletes and bodybuilders are narcissists? It’s too harsh to say on the basis of a study, but it can definitely be a foundation for future research.
We can always spot people in the gym who are constantly in front of mirrors or practice with excessive weights. Instead of labeling them as narcissists it would be nice to use them as an example of how not to carry out the exercises.
Actually who could be a bigger narcissist: the person who spends 3 hours shopping to find the perfect combination of clothing to stand out from the crowd or the person who spends time in the gym to feel comfortable in the only clothes that we have – our skin?