When A Skewed Body Image Is A Disease

Most women, when asked, have no trouble detailing what's wrong with their physical appearance. Ask a woman, "If you could have any plastic surgery you wanted, which kind would you choose?"  Chances are she won't have to give it a moment's thought because she's long since figured out the answer to that particular question. But in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) the emotional pain of a perceived physical flaw is so great that the sufferer cannot bear to be seen by anyone.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BDD is a chronic mental illness in which the sufferer imagines a physical flaw or views a minor body flaw in an exaggerated light. Someone with BDD may find his or herself obsessing over the way he or she looks for a good part of the day. A great deal of money may be spent on plastic surgery and cosmetics in an effort to repair the imagined or exaggerated flaws, but somehow, satisfaction never comes. The condition is sometimes termed, "imagined ugliness," or "dysmorphobia," which means the fear of possessing a deformity.

According to Dr. Eda Gorbis, BDD expert at the Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorders, people with BDD "can spend more than 8 hours a day looking into the mirror, or even worse, they may go under the knife several times."

Symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disoder

If you suspect that you, or someone you know has BDD, take a look at the following checklist of symptoms:

*Obsession with physical appearance

*An unshakeable belief that one is hideous due to a physical flaw

*Constant examination of one's reflection, or an avoidance of mirrors

*The belief that others find one ugly

*Dissatisfaction with the results of cosmetic procedures

*Constant grooming, for instance, plucking hairs

*Exaggerated self-consciousness

*Refusing to be photographed

*Picking at one's skin

*Making constant physical comparisons to others

*Becoming reclusive, for instance, avoiding social situations

*Using excess makeup or clothing to hide imagined physical defects

In BDD, sufferers tend to complain about the look of the following physical features:




*Freckles or moles



*Size of breasts

*Size of muscles


Progressive Ailment

BDD tends to be progressive in that the imagined flaws become so large in the mind of the sufferer that he/she becomes delusional and is convinced that he/she has a deformity, no matter how often others insist there is no such flaw. Body dysmorphic disorder doesn't get better on its own and since it is a progressive ailment, may even lead to suicide. It's very important that someone with BDD be seen by a physician.

Researchers aren't yet sure how someone gets BDD but believe there is a combination of factors at work, including biochemical malfunction perhaps involving serotonin, family tendency to the disorder, and negative life experiences that may affect self-image.

Learn more about body dysmorphic disoder.

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