Dysmorphophobia: causes, symptoms and treatment

We have all, at some point in our lives, been overwhelmed by a physical defect or overwhelmed by a part of our body that we don’t like. But … what happens when a small complex becomes pure obsession?

Dysmorphophobia is the name of the so-called bodily dysmorphic disorder, which is framed under somatomorphic disorders. literally, it is a phobia or exaggerated rejection of a part of one’s own body.

Dysmorphophobia: what exactly is it?

We are talking about a body image distortion problem, therefore, the symptoms are related to the obsession with a specific part of the subject’s physical appearance.

The person who suffers from it, being a constant and excessive preoccupation with a physical defect, real or imagined. If such a physical defect exists in reality, the levels of anxiety experienced are exorbitant, as they perceive it in an exaggerated way, which can lead to significant emotional problems or social isolation. It is important to note that we are not talking about a problem of self-image related to eating disorders (as in anorexia) or gender identity (which goes with the rejection towards the body itself. even, especially the genitals).

Causes and beginnings of this psychological disorder

These types of problems usually start in the teenage years, when the greatest physical and bodily changes occur, and gradually decrease with age, although sometimes they can persist into adulthood.

It has been studied that dysmorphophobia appears to the same extent in men as in women, Although one might think that the pressure on the physique demands more of the female sex. Depending on the etiology, the obsession with a part of the body is more common in upper class youth, with little or no physical defects, but who magnify and make the center of their life. The tendency towards an anxious personality, low self-esteem or having been the victim of some kind of bullying or mockery in childhood, can predispose to suffer from this type of problem.

The “damn parts” of the body

According to various field studies, theare typical areas that are the subject of greater obsession these are: skin defects (spots, acne or wrinkles on the face), teeth, chest, scars, facial asymmetry, lips, nose, abdomen, ears, chin and, in the man, also the genitals.

The sense of anxiety about obsession can lead people who suffer from it to real emotional imbalances related to depression, anxiety attacks, low self-esteem and social isolation to the idea that everyone sees theirs the same way.

Feelings of shame or social insufficiency constantly accompany them, as well as comparisons with the physique of others. It is very common for this obsession to be associated with a compulsion to try to reduce anxiety. In this way, the person can fall into a real ritual of cosmetic care, make-up abuse, Creams or specific types of clothing to disguise or distract attention. Some affected people compulsively check their image in mirrors, while others avoid them at all costs.

Photoshop culture and cosmetic surgery as a solution

Current reference models transferred from the media, in many cases trasladan unattainable beauty standards, Which are necessary in those most vulnerable to a mistaken perception of true beauty and a distorted or exaggerated perception of their imperceptible or imagined physical defects.

This obsession with the physical touches all kinds of people, further accentuating the fact that they have or live off a public image and have high status. Lately, we have been able to see how in some celebrities or personalities, cosmetic surgery treatments have resulted in physical changes that have little to do with the original face. In most cases, public opinion believes that not only was surgery not necessary, but the results were not good. We will only have to remember the faces of some celebrities, after their last “tweaks”, not only because there is no sign of natural aging, but because they have lost their physical features. more characteristics. And this is it major and minor plastic surgery is the method celebrities use to relieve anxiety and encourage obsession with physical perfectionism.

The problem is not on the surface

The problem is that the physical changes or improvements that occur in the body through the magic of surgery, they manage to reduce anxiety momentarily and in the short term, but soon the obsession reappears.

Reinforcement by surgery is almost immediate but it is not maintained because the problem is maintained by body distortion, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem … so that little by little, they feel dissatisfied and resort to intervention.

How can we help these people?

If there are no associated major disorders, it is very important to help these people to make a realistic adjustment of their own image as well as a deep work in self-esteem. Part of the anxiety about the physical is maintained because the person does not value other areas of their life, and they make that flaw a whole.

On another side, it will be essential to expose yourself to enjoying social relationships regardless of your own self-esteem. Rational acceptance of one’s own shortcomings but also of one’s own personal resources is the key to reorienting those who suffer from such problems.

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