University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Searching for meaning: men’s stories of long-term androgenic-anabolic steroid use

Edwards, Christian ORCID:, Tod, David and Molnar, Gyozo ORCID: (2022) Searching for meaning: men’s stories of long-term androgenic-anabolic steroid use. In: International Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 26th-28th July 2022, Durham. (Unpublished)

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Objectives. We explored men’s stories of long-term androgenic-anabolic steroid (AAS) use through an existential psychological lens. Methods. In-depth life-history interviews with co-created timelining and multiple informal conversations were undertaken with four white males who had used AAS for around 10 years. Data were put to both a thematic and structural narrative analysis. Here, we identified central existential threads in/to participants' stories and crafted a master plot. Findings and Discussion. In adolescence, participants’ stories centred on a set of struggles where they developed beliefs that they were worthless. As young men, their routine was disrupted by boundary situations that reinforced their everyday uncertainties (e.g., parents’ life-threatening illness). Their search for meaning led them to exercise; developing their body became their method to control their situation. Building muscle and becoming absorbed by a bodybuilding routine, created self-worth for these participants and enabled them to transform their identity. In early adulthood, however, further boundary situations (e.g., injury) disrupted the permanency of their new muscular self-identify. These situations prompted participants to reflect on the meaning muscle provided in their lives. For these men, the threat of losing the core of what they believed defined their self-worth was inconceivable. Consequently, these men turned to AAS use because they believe(d) it to be an authentic way to restore and sustain their identity. Conclusion. Our findings reveal how AAS use is tied to a person’s fundamental sense of self. To conclude, we highlight how this study extends AAS knowledge and may inform work on other health-related behaviours.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Christian Edwards
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2022 10:48
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2022 10:48

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