I need to post a follow up to Beauty Freaks, after a compassionate reader informed me of the mental illness called Body Dismorphic Disorder or BDD.
Beauty Freak post included a few individuals which likely suffer from BDD, and I am ashamed to say this didn’t even dawn on me when I wrote the post. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in this societies obsession with beauty, that I forget there are disorders that are real, and totally debilitating, that cause people to engage behaviors such as plastic surgery.
Below is an exerpt description of BDD, read more here.
And thank you B for pointing out my lack of compassion on this topic.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder, which involves a disturbed body image. It is generally diagnosed in those who are extremely critical of their physique or self image, despite the fact there may be no noticeable disfigurement or defect.
Most people wish they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance, but people suffering from BDD, generally considered of normal appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation at their appearance. They tend to be very secretive and reluctant to seek help because they are afraid others will think them vain or they may feel too embarrassed to do so.
Ironically BDD is often misunderstood as a vanity driven obsession, whereas it is quite the opposite; people with BDD believe themselves to be profoundly ugly or defective.
BDD combines obsessive and compulsive aspects which has linked it to the OCD spectrum disorders among psychologists. People with BDD may engage in compulsive mirror checking behaviors or mirror avoidance, typically think about their appearance for more than one hour a day, and in severe cases may drop all social contact and responsibilities as they become home-bound. The disorder is linked to an unusually high suicide rate among all mental disorders.
A German study has shown that 1-2% of the population meet all the diagnostic criteria of BDD, with a larger percentage showing milder symptoms of the disorder (Psychological Medicine, vol 36, p 877). Chronically low self-esteem is characteristic of those with BDD due to the value of oneself being so closely linked with their perceived appearance. The prevalence of BDD is equal in men and women, and causes chronic social anxiety for those suffering from the disorder.
Phillips & Menard (2006) found the completed suicide rate in patients with BDD to be 45 times higher than in the general US population. This rate is more than double that of those with depression and three times as high as those with bipolar disorder. There has also been a suggested link between undiagnosed BDD and a higher than average suicide rate among people who have undergone cosmetic surgery.
Other BDD Links:
Information in BDD in Children