EDAW 2012 (4)

Hi once again, my ED nugget today is firmly from a research perspective. In Jones & Morgan’s 2010 paper, where they reviewed the research literature about men and eating disorders, some of what they found was perhaps not remotely surprising, whilst others are a cause for concern and action.

The literature shows that men are overall less concerned about how much they actually weigh, and more concerned about how their body mass looks (for example whether they look muscular or athletically lean). It also suggests that there are commonalities in terms of risk factors and presenting issues – this makes sense, I don’t think anyone would try to claim that eating disorders must be entirely different simply because of the person’s sex.

However, we’re now in the 21st century and still diagnosis is dependent upon historical studies that could only provide data on females. This immediately means that any diagnosis has the potential to be biased (or simply poorly applicable). The authors argue that a “discrepancy” (p.29) is clear and yet little research is being done to focus on males and see what useful diagnostic criteria may be created or revised. It’s one of their final assertions that piques my interest the most:

Socio-cultural constructs of eating disorders have been illuminated by feminist theory, but the lack of equivalent discourse addressing male gender identity has left our knowledge of eating disorders in men aetiolated. (ibid.)

So, we continue to seek to understand how we as human beings make and make sense of our own world – except in terms of EDs in men? That is disappointing given the damage that EDs can wreak when compared with many other mental and emotional health issues. what state is research in today when this very socio-cultural studying has essentially been devalued by our government (particularly when you look at the changes in higher education). How on earth can this problem be resolved if no-one is encouraged to study and theorise (and on the back of this, build interventions) social life. It does, however, give me great faith that I chose a positive path – to look at men and their experiences rather than do comparative studies or quantitative number-crunching.

Reference:

Jones, W.R. & Morgan, J. (2010) Eating disorders in men: a review of the literature. Journal of Public Mental Health, 9 (2), pp. 23-31.