T Nation

Adonis Complex

In Response to Timbo and Teddykhb’s post elsewhere, I was wondering if anyone has ready the book The Adonis Complex. I asked for it and got it for Christmas and read it in 2 days. It is an interesting book and certainly gave me some things to think about.

The biggest insight I found for myself from the book was how much of a slave we all are to the media. It’s scary.

I just finished reading the book and I found several problems with it. 1. The authors need to make a better distinction between a healthy lifestyle (including the judicious use of anabolics) and pure insanity (e.g. a 250 lb guy who wouldn’t take off his shirt because he was “too small”). The latter has a problem. The former does not.

  1. The MAJOR PROBLEM with the book is that is presupposes a universal set of ideals. For example, the authors, in their “do you have the adonis complex” test, sight one symptom as “missing social functions to workout”. I think anyone with any amount of dedication to physical improvement can say yes. However, I strongly doubt that the authors would point a finger at a person who missed dinner plans to work late, thus furthering his professional career. This is the same argument that concludes that marijuana, for example, is a horrible drug simply because it is illegal. The question really is WHY is weed illegal? Is it more a dangerous to a person (or society) than alcohol? No, it is simply that alcohol is used by those in power and is therefore legal!

Although the analogy might not be airtight, the point is a focus on health and fitness is simply not an overly important goal of the authors, thus they see those who give up what the authors perceive as "life's pleasures" to workout as "crazy". Truly, the only difference is that to those involved in health and fitness as a lifestyle, some of "life's pleasures" are working out, feeling better than 95% of the population, etc.

The authors just simply missed the point, that different priorities are not inherently “crazy” nor “obsessive”, they’re just different!

“…slave to media…” eh? Such as books that will have us believe that there is something wrong with everything? Please, don’t take this as a criticism of the book. I haven’t read it, so I can’t fairly assess it, but perhaps upon reading what I’ve got to say, you’ll think differently.

I think that everyone has some sort of an inadequacy, or yearning to be better. If everyone was happy the way they were, there would be no innovation and everyone would sit at home sipping a beer (not that there’s anything wrong with that sometimes). That inadequacy manifests itself in different ways in different people. Some people obssess about money and try to make as much of it as possible. Others try to bed as many women as possible. Others want to rule the world. And, some people want to build the perfect body. All of the above ambitions can be labeled pathological if they are excessive and causes harm to the individual and the person’s friends and family. I don’t think there is a clear delineation between pathological and ambitious that we all can agree on. That’s like the difference between confidence and arrogance. We all “know” what the difference is, but we have different opinions on what that difference exactly is. So, I would guess that the book probably has some valid points, but like all books, it needs to make money by making a bigger deal of something than what it actually is.

I agree with both of your points but the book certainly does make you think.

As far as being a slave to the media, I think it affects us more than most of us admit. I mean, 5 months ago, before we began hearing the word recession, did any of us think the economy was going all that bad. That is certainly over simplifying it but…

As far as the book goes though, there was no middle ground that I detected from the authors point of view. You were either a hardcore muscle head or one of those people we see at the gym that rides the bike for 20 minutes 3 x's a week and wonders why they still have a 50 lb gut.

They also did not speak of responsible use of pro-hormones and other aids. Though I have never used them, I think a site like this is great for educatiing those who do.

But I think the book could also be a wake up call for anyone struggling with body dysmorphic issues or mental illness.

There’s always going to be those people that advocate the “accept me as I am” ideals. Face it, it’s far easier for many people to accept the fact that they haven’t seen their penis without the aid of a mirror in a few years than to actually do anything to change. Trying to better yourself is why people go to college, church, and the gym. They all work on different areas and we all need work…acceptance is for the lazy. I hope I always feel the need to keep improving myself in one way or the other.