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I literally have NO self-image

  1. Aug 8, 2011 #1


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    I realized, recently, that I've been making fitness decisions almost exclusively based on numbers and statistics. I think it's because I actually, literally, cannot tell how I look when I see myself in the mirror. I pride myself in my rationalism, but I'm beginning to think I'm experiencing a similar condition to what anorexics may deal with.

    For the last couple of months, I've been on a high calorie, high protein diet. I've been exercising and doing practical strength training. I can see my weight go up on the scale. I can see my body fat percentage change. But when I look in the mirror I have absolutely no idea how I compare to anyone else. I'm experiencing a unconscious resistance to over-rating myself coupled with an unconscious desire to feel pride.

    Has anyone else experienced a complete loss of self-image?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2011 #2


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    Drop the specialized diet, and continue working out. Just put more effort into exerting yourself physically. My friends and I were used to haying, tossing bales, chucking firewood, etc and we did OK. One summer, my best friend and I built him and his wife a stone house using stones that we scavenged from old walls on his father's farm. We spent hours every day working on that house. We were both lean and light. Short skinny guys, but heaven help any creep that wanted to pick a fight with us. You don't have to be bulked up to be strong or capable.
  4. Aug 8, 2011 #3
    Turbo, you made me laugh. Instant advice.

    Flex - does this condition have anything to do with your user name, "Flex Gunship"?
  5. Aug 8, 2011 #4
    Well almost. I once tried to visualize myself like in the future and I had the most difficult time because I could not really identify what my self was in my mind. I started paying more attention to my thoughts and my "self" and I am doing better. I felt like crap when it happened tho...like I was moderately out of touch with reality. I blame it on abstract math :tongue2: Infinity over infinity foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!
  6. Aug 8, 2011 #5


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    If I thought it were a disorder, I'd say depersonalization disorder, but I wouldn't jump the gun. Dissociative symptoms are the third most common reported by the healthy public (next to anxiety and depression). It happens to most of us sooner or later.

    THE DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS: Rarely Considered and Underdiagnosed
    Psychiatric Clinics of North America
    Volume 21, Issue 3, 1 September 1998, Pages 637-648
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  7. Aug 9, 2011 #6
    Do you mean you can't tell how you look physically, or you can't tell how you are as a person?
  8. Aug 9, 2011 #7


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    Hah, thanks. I'm not particularly lean or light. I have some mass to me, and I have a fairly low body fat percentage. By any measure of numbers, I'm a classic "toned" "mesomorph."

    No, no, no... my user name was designed to simply be as bada$$ as possible. "The names Gunship. Flex Gunship. I'll have a vodka martini... with alligators."

    See, I thought of that. I looked into it a little. But I guess I don't quite fit the description. Firstly, I don't experience much anxiety and I handle stress really well. I have no symptoms of depression (in general; everyone gets bummed out or discouraged sometimes). But my understanding of "depersonalization" disorder is that a person is unable to assess their own character subjectively. I have NO problem with that... I'm awesome! :tongue:

    Just physically. I have a good handle on my weaknesses as a person and (unlike some of my friends) I feel comfortable accepting my personality flaws and working on them actively.
  9. Aug 9, 2011 #8


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    Maybe it's because the change that results from working out comes so slow. If you were to transform in 30 minutes, I'm sure you'd notice.

    My $0.02: you probably don't spend much time thinking about your physical self or memorizing what your parts look like -- i.e., you probably aren't the obsessive type.
  10. Aug 9, 2011 #9
    Are you sure your eyes are open?
  11. Aug 9, 2011 #10


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    I just mean it as a "snapshot" kind of thing. In a given moment, I look at myself and I don't know if I could accurately compare myself to the body-type of another individual. I catch myself thinking: "I wonder if I look like him."

    Yes, they seem to be open. Common problem, though... I'm sure.
  12. Aug 9, 2011 #11
    I'll add some psycho-babble.

    It doesn't matter how much you work out. You'll just be doing it relative to other people (which isn't bad in itself but can go on forever). Do something for yourself that'll make you happy.
  13. Aug 9, 2011 #12


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    I did an AWFUL job of explaining it, I guess. I don't have a self-esteem issue. I'm happy with my body, and I'm really pleased with the changes I'm making.

    That being said... I couldn't tell you if my body looks like the scrawny guy riding the BMX bike without a shirt, or like James Bond-era Pierce Brosnan.
  14. Aug 9, 2011 #13
    If you cant tell, just assume the Pierce Brosnan.

    Do you have any female friends? You could always ask them. Or just walk around without a shirt and see if women look.
  15. Aug 9, 2011 #14
    This doesn't make any sense. How are you supposto have a self-image when constantly comparing it to other people? :uhh:
    I guess your trouncing rationalism will make better sense of this.
  16. Aug 9, 2011 #15


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    Perhaps you can say, "Of those two drivers, this person is the better driver." More aptly, you might say, "I'm a better driver than that guy."

    Perhaps you can say, "Of those two golfers, this person is the better golfer." More aptly, you might say, "I'm a better golfer than that guy."

    With more nuance, you can say, "Of those two singers, she has more expression, but she has a better and more accurate range."

    There are a series of standards and metrics by which you can measure a quality in another person and by applying those same metrics inward, you can judge yourself accordingly.

    I know my weight, my body fat percentage, how much I can lift, how far I can run, and how tall I am. But I don't know how I stack up against the people I see. It's weird. When I go to the pool in my condo complex, I don't know if I'm better looking than those other guys, or worse. I can't imagine how other people perceive me. I have NO sense of self-image.

    It's NOT a vanity thing. I swear. And it's not an issue of low self-esteem. I'm fine with how I look. I just don't know how it is that I look!

    EDIT: As a side note, when I shop for clothes, I always bring a female (sister, girlfriend, girl just-friend). When I see myself in clothes, I can't imagine whether I look good or not. I know when clothes fit well, and I know when they're comfortable. But I can't step out of my body, pretend to see myself on the street, and then say: "Wow, that's a ****ty outfit on him."
  17. Aug 9, 2011 #16
    Congratulations, you are a man!

    I find a better way to figure out how I look is to try to notice how people interact with me. Do women look at you? I know that I tend to look at good looking women, and women tend to look at good looking dudes....
  18. Aug 9, 2011 #17


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  19. Aug 9, 2011 #18
    I have no idea what you're talking about. The main problem is that you keep flipping back and forth between the term "self-image" and how others perceive you.

    I have an idea, now and then, about how some other individual perceives me, but the more of these outside perceptions you become aware of you realize you aren't universally seen the same way by all. My own idea of myself, likewise, is as fluid as my mood, and is not, of course, the same as other's perception of me. It sounds like you're supposing there can be some universal agreement about how you look. The best you can hope for in that regard is probably a Bell Curve.

    Anorectics have a distorted self image, from what I understand, always perceiving themselves as too fat. So, you're not in the same boat as an anorectic.
  20. Aug 9, 2011 #19
    there is something among bodybuilders called "biggerexia". guys like Gregg Valentino that can never seem to get their arms big enough. every time they look in the mirror, they just see this skinny twerp looking back at them. maybe your self-image is stuck in some insecure prepubescent stage.

    but can you objectively evaluate the physiques of others? maybe try cutting the head off a picture of yourself. then find a match for it somewhere. try depersonalizing your image and see if that makes a difference.
  21. Aug 9, 2011 #20
    It's pretty hard to believe that you have no self-image. Anyway, I'd like to give a definite diagnosis as to what is the matter, but I cant. So, I'll just shut up.
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