Body dysmorphic disorder is common, yet widely misunderstood

ByToni Pikoosi: Complete Post through this link…

‘My bulbous nose makes me look like a monster,’ Blair said, staring into her lap as she sat in front of me.

Blair did not, in fact, look like a monster. Her nose was well proportioned for her face. She had been told by countless people before that there was nothing wrong with her nose and that it suited her well, but she struggled to believe them. Blair (whose name has been changed here for anonymity) often felt like these people were just trying to be polite, or that they had to compliment her because they were her friends or family.

Each of us faces pressures with regard to our physical appearance; by one estimate, nearly three-quarters of people wish that they could change the way they look. Body dissatisfaction is so prevalent that researchers often refer to it as ‘normative discontent’ – it’s more common to dislike your body in some way than to like your body as it is. So was Blair just dissatisfied with her nose? Or was there something more going on?

This was not typical body dissatisfaction. Blair was struggling with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a common and debilitating psychiatric condition in which someone becomes fixated on perceived flaws in their physical appearance. This fixation can involve any bodily feature, but commonly centres on the skin, facial features such as the nose or teeth, hair, genitals, or bodily proportions. BDD affects up to 2.9 per cent of the population, with even higher rates in certain settings, such as cosmetic and dermatology practices and among bodybuilders. While some people mistakenly assume that it predominantly affects females, research suggests that BDD occurs in men and women at comparable rates.

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