OBJECTIVE: Muscle dysmorphia is a relatively recently identified psychological condition that, since its inception, has been variously conceptualized as an eating disorder and subsequently as a type of body dysmorphic disorder within the somatoform disorders. This review aims to inform and encourage ongoing debate surrounding the diagnostic placement of this disorder.
METHOD: We present a review and synthesis of the extant literature with a view to informing future decisions regarding the conceptualization of muscle dysmorphia.
RESULTS: The validity of muscle dysmorphia as a clinical entity has been empirically demonstrated. While the condition bears little semblance to somatization as currently conceptualized, the research suggests a strong conceptual similarity with anorexia nervosa. However, future research needs to utilize more appropriate measures of male eating disorder pathology. Muscle dysmorphia is also inclusive of obsessive compulsive features that are typical to those seen in eating disorder presentations.
DISCUSSION: We suggest that muscle dysmorphia be reanalyzed through the lens of an eating disorder spectrum. Recognition of muscle dysmorphia as an eating disorder may offer more clinical utility in recognizing the male experience of eating disorder pathology and also help reduce the number of current male cases falling into the EDNOS category.