I was lying half-unconscious on the couch tonight and ended up watching some programs on Discovery channel. One was about strange things removed from humans (E.G.: the cop who had a 6′ long section of a mobile home stuck in his chest), then there was a show with the provocative title “The Man With Exploding Arms“.
The program was about bodybuilders and steroid use, and used Gregg Valentino as sort of the poster child for everything that can go wrong. Gregg, despite his lengthy use of steroids and (I’m sorry to say) comically over-developed biceps, seems like a nice guy. Very honest about his problems and the stupid things he’s done, maybe to the point of almost being proud. The video tape of him trying to drain a pus-filled haematoma in his bicep while talking to his buddy on the phone really seems like a low point to me, something I’d be embarrassed by, but he didn’t seem to mind talking about it.
One thing that hadn’t really occurred to me was the psychologist (Harrison Pope) in the program who described something the body-builder’s themselves called “biggorexia“. A body dysmorphic disorder like anorexia, it causes body builders to look in the mirror and, regardless of how much muscle they have, see themselves as “underdeveloped”. Add that to the incredible competitive strain of body building in general, and you end up with folks using drugs and ruining their bodies.
It makes me wonder whether a nudge in the right or wrong direction in life can result in people seeing themselves in ways that lead to self destructive behavior. Or if its purely something you are born with. Whatever, I feel fortunate that I’ve managed to avoid thinking of myself daily as in desperate need of extreme improvement. I could imagine how easily it could become all-consuming.