Men who have eating disorders or body dysmorphic disorder often think that they are unusual in battling with these problems. Not so, but until recently it could seem true because very few men were willing to share their stories. Thankfully, Brian Cuban has broken the taboo with his memoir, Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Body dysmorphic disorder is an intense preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in physical appearance.
Brian’s story begins with childhood social anxiety, being bullied and rejected by peers for his size and awkwardness, and being ridiculed by his mother for his weight. For decades, Brian struggled in vain to connect with others for friendship and love. When he looked in the mirror, he saw a “monster.” In his attempts to break free of isolation and loneliness, he adopted a number of destructive coping mechanisms, including compulsive exercise, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, self-injury, body modification, and steroid abuse. Running, dieting, drinking, or any of the other behaviors provided some relief from the pain, but only momentarily.
The coping mechanisms that Brian embraced are the same ones that any of us might use in an attempt to survive traumatic life experiences. Inevitably, these behaviors take on a life of their own so that we no longer have the control we yearn for. These maladaptive behaviors become so entrenched that overcoming them may feel impossible. In fact, it is hard work, which may be why we often postpone the work.
At his lowest point, Brian contemplated for suicide, gun in hand, totally consumed by addictions and distorted thinking about his body. Fortunately, with great effort and the support of his family, his therapist, and 12-step groups, Brian has made impressive progress in freeing himself from the nightmare he was living.
Brian’s is a story of hope. Shattered Image is encouraging to men and women struggling with body image and addictive issues. It is also helpful to anyone who loves someone in this situation. In addition, his memoir will help therapists, physicians, and other care providers understand the complex issues and challenges faced by clients dealing with body dysmorphic disorder, addictions, trauma, and social anxiety. What makes Shattered Image valuable is that it is so real and unvarnished. Because Brian Cuban has broken the silence, readers will be better able to show themselves and others compassionate understanding and free themselves from the monster. Bravo, Brian!
Art Wagner, LGSW – Therapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Art please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.