Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition where people get preoccupied with thoughts about their looks. According to De mello (35), “it is a psychological disorder in which an individual is perpetually unhappy with his/her body and often see their body in a way that is totally disconnected from reality. ” Patients suffering from this disorder adopt a perception that their bodies are defective and thus spend many hours in front of their mirrors wishing they could change their looks. This perception that is strongly held sometimes interferes with how these people relate with others in the society.
The disorder is increasingly being reported in the United States and that is why the key focus of this paper will be to address the causes and symptoms of body dsymorphic disorder and will also show how increasingly superficial societal values are affecting patients who suffer from this disorder. Generally speaking, people with body dysmorphic disorder develop a wrong perception that their bodies have flaws and they then become preoccupied with these thoughts to an extent that some spend many hours in front of their mirrors.
Some of them opt to go for cosmetic surgeries or what De mello (36) refers to as non mainstream body alterations in an effort to correct the perceived body defects and match their expectations. BDD is said to be one of the hardest disorders to treat because there is no real problem that exists and the problem is only perceived by their minds. For this reason, one cannot be surprised to see people undergoing risky and costly body surgeries in their bid to improve their body looks for they are never contented with how their body looks and constantly think there are defective.
The said defects are not something real and cannot be corrected as they only exist in their minds and thus are more of psychological or emotional problems. The disorder becomes more problematic because when one defect seems to be corrected they develop others and thus they will never be satisfied with how they look in fact the disease is like cancer which if not treated in good time keeps affecting different body parts.
These flaws make these people feel like they are worthless and thus they live in desperation have no self esteem because they think that everybody is seeing and pitying how they look and a case in hand is of Miriam a beautiful girl who was constantly worried about how she looked (Walker 10) For one to be said to be suffering from this body dsymorphic disorder, it must be clearly established that patients occupational, educational and other social functioning are affected.
The disease is distinguished from other disorders such as Bulimia nervosa and anorexia disorder which target just one area unlike BDD which affects the whole body. For example a patient who has lost eating appetite for fear of weight increase cannot be diagnosed for BDD but a person who is concerned with let us say, big breasts cannot be diagnosed for anorexia. Statistics show that 50 percent of all patients that are diagnosed for body dysmorphic disorder end up going for cosmetic surgeries in the wrong belief that their perceived body defects would be corrected (Watkins and Baltimore).
Patients suffering from this disorder constantly complain of their bodies for example; being asymmetrical, some parts of their bodies aging faster, presence of scars and that some body parts being un proportional like the nose being too big or eyes being too small or too big. Because the problem is psychological, a patient may overcome the initially thought problem and develop other body defects which they would then strongly focus on (Penzel 9)
According to Williams and Wilkins (1313), there is no known exact cause for this disorder but there are some theories that are postulated by some theorists in their trials to explain the origin of this disorder. One of them is biological in nature and argues that there is genetic predisposition that increases ones chances of suffering from this disorder. These theorists say that there are chemicals in the brain which if there happens to be an imbalance, body dsymorphic disorder arises.
An example of these chemicals is serotonin which if unbalanced results to this disease but it is sparked off by some conditions such as stress, depression and bodily changes occurring during adolescence period. There is another theory which is advanced by psychologists who maintain that concerns over body appearances combined with low self esteem contribute to body dsymorphic disorder. The problem with these patients is that they develop a perfectionist attitude that their body should look like the way they think and they thus strive to make it happen (Williams and Wilkins 1314).
There are signs and symptoms that can tell when one is suffering or developing this disorder. Some are explicit but others are complex and hard to establish but all in all, the common ones are these; patients suffering from this disorder spend most of their time checking their body reflections in the mirror, they are always comparing their looks with those of others, they are frequently seen observing others, they have low self esteem, they try to hide their perceived body defects by using make ups and clothing and go for corrective treatments such as cosmetic surgery or what is referred to as dermatological therapy.
These people find it hard to keep relationships with their friends, spouses and family. They perform dismally in their academics and generally their work output is low. These people frequently take sick leaves and avoid situations that might expose their body defects. Another symptom of this disorder is that these victims could be seen pressing and squeezing blackheads and pimples for hours. In extreme cases, suicide might result to those that are completely unable to manage their distress (Williams and Wilkins 1314).
There are superficial values in our society that in one way or the other contribute to an increase in body dsymorphic disorders while at the same time affecting those who are already affected. The contemporary American society has in particular contributed to this in that it tends to overly concerned with how people look something that has now become one of the social causes for BDD. People are everyday challenged in the way they dress by stylists who keep coming up with new dressing styles or fashions something that make people to be very concerned with their bodies and try to know whether they are moving with the times.
The problem is that the more you look at yourself in the mirror the more you tend to be preoccupied with how you look and chances are that you will start seeing some defects that are not there (Kornstein, et al 45). The societies that we have today value looks more than anything else and are thus very conscious with how one looks. This is true particularly when you look at how cosmetic industries try to make people uncomfortable with how they look so that they can constantly buy their products. They produce different products and claim that they will make you look like those models they put in their advertisements.
What they do is that they try to take advantage of those people who are very conscious of their look because they know that they will buy their new products. Their target is those that are already affected and others who develop it in the process but the most affected are those that already have this disorder. These people think that the advertised products would correct the defects on their bodies. The aim of these companies is not to make people look better than they do but to increase their sales and that is why they try to make people to be very conscious of how they look and dress (Penzel 9)
There are other social-psychological perceptions that exist in our societies for example it is believed that ladies should have lean and beautiful bodies while men’s bodies should be muscular and strong. To those men and women who do not meet these expectations, it becomes a real problem for example, men with small muscles start to feel embarrassed with their bodies as the think that people are looking and pitying them and might thus be forced to take steroids and spend most of their time in gyms and in front of mirrors to see whether there are improvements.
The same happens to ladies whereby shows such as beauty pageants show girls with lean bodies something that greatly challenges those that are very concerned with their bodies to an extent that they can do anything to look like them even if it means using some chemicals or undergoing cosmetic surgeries and if this does not work they might even commit suicide (Phillips). The media is another thing that is contributing to increased cases of body dsymorphic disorders. Shapely and beautiful images that are shown in the media arouse people’s consciousness about how they look and start perceiving defects that are not there.
People suffering from this disorder should be taught how to appreciate their bodies the way they are as it is the only way that the affected individuals can cope with the disorder and this is what is called Cognitive-behavioral therapy. People should understand that cosmetic companies are only interested in increasing their sales and profit margins but helping people who are not contented with their looks is not their main goal. There is also another treatment method for example according to the Depression Guide, “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors appear to often be effective for BDD, even if symptoms are delusional.
” In short body dsymorphic disorder is obsession with how one looks and the problem becomes serious such that people do not appreciate the way they look but actually there is nothing wrong with their bodies. The problem they have is a mind construct and is only perceived by them and thus it is hard for the perceived defects to be corrected. Treatment for body dsymorphic disorder is by giving affected individuals behavioral therapy or by administering serotonin inhibitors so as to restore the balance of this chemical in the mind or by combining both.
Works cited: DeMello, Margo. Encyclopedia of body adornment. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. Depression Guide. 2005. Body Dysmorphic Disorder Treatment and Symptoms. Available at http://www. depression-guide. com/body-disorder-dysmorphic. htm Kornstein, Susan G. and Clayton, Anita H. Women’s mental health: a comprehensive textbook. Guilford Press, 2002. Phillips, Katharine A. Body dysmorphic disorder in men: Psychiatric treatments are usually effective. Body Dysmorphic Program. 2001. http://www. pubmedcentral. nih. gov/articlerender.
fcgi? artid=1121529 Penzel, Frederick. Behavioral Treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. 2000. Available at http://westsuffolkpsych. homestead. com/bdd. html Williams, Lippincott and Wilkins. Professional Guide to Diseases. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 9th Ed, 2008. Walker, Pamela. Everything you need to know about body dysmorphic disorder: dealing with a distorted body image. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1999. Watkins, Carol E. and Baltimore. Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Available at http://www. ncpamd. com/body_dysmorphic_disorder. htm