WHAT IS “BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER”?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a term that was coined to describe a certain psychological condition that involves obsession with one’s appearance and consisting of certain symptoms which have been somewhat clearly categorized during the past few decades. “Dys” means “incorrect, wrong” and “morphic” means “shape, related to shape”.  So “Dysmorphic” means “Incorrectly shaped”

From time immemorial people, especially women, have been interested in a more presentable and more aesthetically pleasing appearance.  During the ages before photography people would obviously choose certain good-looking individuals as their model and try to copy them in terms of make-up, hair style, clothing etc.  With the invention of photography and print media people now had ready access to photos of handsome men and beautiful women and compared their appearance to those individuals.  Then came the era of cinema and TV, and certainly Hollywood brought to light generation after generation of extremely handsome men and beautiful women, which obviously completely changed people’s perception of beauty.

This has lead to “appearance” and “one’s looks” gaining a most prominent role in people’s lives.

Psychology And Dysmorphic Disorder

BREATHING DIFFICULTY AFTER COSMETIC NASAL SURGERY imageHowever, there are certain individuals who psychologically are susceptible to having “low self-esteem”, and constantly trying to find flaws with their appearance.  This is beyond a simple trying to imitate role models in fashion magazines and movies.  Such individuals have a totally distorted perception of themselves.  They are constantly conscious of what they perceive in their appearance as being abnormal and are under constant impression that they are being watched by everyone for this incorrectly perceived flaw.  They are eitherconstantly in front of the mirror, or avoid looking themselves in the mirror totally.  They often have several cosmetic procedures done, but are always unhappy no matter how good the outcome.  They need constant re-assurance by others about their appearance.  And there are many other symptoms.

The Impact Of Media On Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The media has played a major role in the prevalence of this problem.  First of all, the media has been responsible for literally brain-washing the public into this notion that life is all about “appearance”.  Secondly, and more importantly, the media has engraved such a distorted perception of beauty in the minds of the public by falsifying images and placing Photo-Shopped bodies in front of people’s eyes that literally do not exist in reality, that this has created a chaotic situation resulting in an ever-increasing number of individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  The image below, courtesy of Google Images, is a good example of how a person with this disorder views herself in the mirror.WHAT IS "BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER"? image

This is why one of the main duties of a plastic surgeon is to be aware of this disorder and to diagnose it promptly.  Because people with this disorder often refer for different plastic surgery procedures which never make them happy.  Sometimes it is necessary to seek help from psychologists to deal with such individuals.