Exploring Men’s Accounts of Understanding and Seeking Help for Problems with Eating

Prof Doc Thesis

Markham, Laura 2013. Exploring Men’s Accounts of Understanding and Seeking Help for Problems with Eating. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsMarkham, Laura
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Objective: The silence around ‘eating disorders’ in males is reflected in a dearth
of literature on prevalence, aetiology, treatment and outcome (Morgan, 2010).
Despite a documented increase in male ‘eating disorders’ (Braun et al., 1999),
recent research has found that males often reach help at a later stage than
females, that symptoms go unrecognised in a clinical setting, and that even
when males do receive a diagnosis, appropriate care is not always initiated
(Copperman, 2000). The current study aimed to gain an in-depth understanding
of the experience of males with ‘eating disorders’ (in the UK), using a qualitative
approach. The study explored men’s experiences of living with an ‘eating
disorder’, including their understanding of the development of the ‘eating
disorder’ and their experiences of seeking help.
Method: Eight men were recruited from a self-help charity for men who identify
as having an ‘eating disorder’ (thereby including males who had not sought
professional help). Semi-structured interviews of eight men were analysed using
interpretative phenomenological analysis, which provided scope to capture and
contextualize the richness and complexity of their experiences.
Results: Three superordinate analytic themes are presented: ‘boys should be
boys and men should be men’, ‘the experience of interpersonal relationships’
and ‘the ‘eating disorder’ as both the problem and the solution: Negotiating a
road to recovery.’ A description of these superordinate themes and the related
subthemes themes is presented.
Discussion: The results are discussed in terms of relevance to existing
literature. The results reinforce the importance of considering the development
and maintenance of ‘eating disorders’ at an individual, interpersonal and
sociocultural level. The present study sheds light on some of the critical issues
confronting men (at different stages of their lives) and the relationship of these
issues with constructions and expressions of masculinity and to the
development of ‘eating disorders’.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.15123/PUB.3482
Publication dates
PrintDec 2013
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Jan 2014
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