For many years anabolic steroids were used in courts of law to mitigate responsibility in cases of violent crime. The “dumbbell-defence” (steroid-defence) assumes a diminished responsibility due to the pathological effect of taking steroids. Greg Wane and Steven De Souza used the dumbbell defence during their murder trial in 1995. Although there is still no empirical research that has established a relationship between anabolic steroids and increased aggression, popular media still publishes stories suggesting a connection. Popular media has attempted over many years to connect steroids and violence in sport.
Williams and L. Birke (2003) suggest that anabolic steroids do not cause aggression and that there are a myriad of factors that may impact upon an individual’s behaviour. Williams and Birke’s research indicates that due to the influence of popular media, individuals may develop a self-fulfilling prophecy where the belief, rather than the steroids, have led to aggression. During double-blind trials individuals given a placebo under the belief they were receiving anabolic steroids became more aggressive.
There is strong indication that popular media may be a contributing factor in body image problems faced by many young men and women. Many experts have suggested a contributing factor to eating disorders among women is the negative effect of popular media, promoting an image of thinness. While the ideal man portrayed in popular media as being highly muscled and lean may have influenced the development of muscle dysmorphia. Muscle dysmorphia is a preoccupation with appearance and perceived muscularity, and the individual’s quality of life is impaired due to the strict training, dieting, and life-style.
Apart from the perception of aggression by bodybuilders, contact sports have also attracted their fair share of criticism. During the 1970s and early 1980s Australian rugby league was dominated by excessive levels of unsanctioned violence. There was a belief that watching violent sport had a cathartic affect upon the spectators providing a chance ‘to let off steam.’ But in reality there is no empirical evidence to substantiate this belief. Research has indicated that in part sport, mirrors society and with increased violence in society; then we should witness an increase of violence in sport. Research indicates the level of violence in in sport increases when there is stress to win at any cost.
Christopher Swane - Counselling And Psychotherapy For Men - Wellington New Zealand