The psychodynamic theory states that these are unresolved conflicts from childhood and extremely difficult feelings that are responsible for the disorder. The disorder provides a means for people to express their emotions that otherwise would be too difficult to express
. In this case emotions are converted into more tolerable physical symptoms. The purpose of such conversion is to communicate extreme feelings in 'physical language'. Therefore a preoccupation with musculature could be treated as an individual's unconscious displacement of sexual or emotional conflict (or feelings of guilt, or even poor self-image
[T]he cognitive-behavioral theory holds that muscle dysmorphia is influenced by several factors including culture, biological predisposition, psychological vulnerabilities (e.g. low self-esteem
) and early childhood experiences (e.g. bullying and teasing)
. Cultural factors manifest themselves in an exaggerated emphasis on appearance, physical strength and attractiveness. For instance, people compare themselves with idealized cultural figures such as unattainably muscular heroes in children's books and action figures (e.g. G.I. Joe).
There is also a hypothesis that individuals repeat negative and distorted self-statements
concerning their appearance to such an extent that they become automatic
. Muscle dysmorphia influences a person's mood, often causing depression or feelings of disgust
. This is often connected with constant comparing of a person's body to an unattainable ideal.