Today's topics (thrown at me by Steve Shaw) presents a true challenge for obvious reasons, but I shall tackle it anyways. While it is undeniably true that there is a narcissistic element within bodybuilding, I still do not think that the pursuit of bigger muscles is necessarily unhealthy (it can be though).
Let's look at the definition of narcissistic behavior first. Essentially it is a personality disorder, meaning that it is a pervasive character flaw. Narcissism is not like depression or paranoia, which can come and go. Personality disorders are who you are.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments. Check - every competitor I have ever met.
- He/she expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others and is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence. Also has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic...hmmm yes, I see a pattern.
Now let's keep in mind that some of these traits in moderation are not bad. Having a certain amount of self-esteem is healthy. Without it, we would feel worthless and not take care of ourselves. That would be unhealthy.
Narcissists have too much self-esteem and it's unrealistic. They also devalue others to inflate themselves.
So I conclude that more often than not, narcissists seek out bodybuilding to live out their grandiosity since the results are permanent and visible. You could be the world's best volleyball player and still nobody notices you on the beach. If you are 230lbs at 5% bodyfat, that is a different story.
9 reasons bodybuilding is a good thing
This does not mean however, that bodybuilding in itself is unhealthy. Here is why.
- Being out shape is unpatriotic. (Mark Wahlberg, "Pain and Gain"). In other words, if you do not have 18 inch arms, the terrorists win.
- Being in shape makes the world a prettier place, and it saves the government money on healthcare costs.
- It is the only cure for any type of addiction. To be more precise, you are trading whatever ails you in for a solid case of body dysmorphia. But at least nobody has every OD'ed on training or chicken breasts.
- It is good for the local farmers, as you are purchasing more locally grown food. Everyone knows that eating produce from afar will stop them gainz.
- Taking some me time is not selfish. You need it to be better human being. If you do not invest the time in yourself, who will?
- Little boys will ask you to flex, which can make anyone feel better. From there, you can start a conversation that will either help you become a role model, or allow you to hit on mom. The choice is yours.
- Bigger arms are a great conversation starter. They are also less tacky than a yellow-gold Rolex, even though they cost about the same to build/acquire. I figured 35k over time in gym fees, supplements, food and "incidentals."
- Yes, showing off a killer a physique is often a cry for attention, but at least it does require lots of work. This is unlike getting a piercing or dying your hair blue, which requires no effort. It is also much more soothing on the eyes than the EMO look.
- Bodybuilding makes as much/little sense as putting a ball into a basket or over a net. In other words, all sports are somewhat silly, yet nobody questions a tennis player when he puts in hours upon hours into perfecting his game. The difference here is that a tennis player in the subway does not stand out, whereas a 240 lb freak does. I attest the public's dislike for the sport of bodybuilding to jealousy.
So in conclusion, there is a potential for our beloved sport to become all consuming. This is why it is smart to keep some non-fitness friends around, and to practice some different hobbies.