Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition in which a person spends a lot of time worrying over problems in their appearance. These problems are often not recognised by other people.
People of any age can develop BDD, it is most common in teenagers and young adults of either sex.
BDD is an obsessive condition, once the idea that there is a flaw in the person’s appearance has taken hold, it is hard to stop it from occupying their thoughts.
Focussing too much on how we feel about our bodies may become an unhealthy way of obscuring the way we feel about ourselves, about our lives, the question is; what’s too much?
Instead of keeping our thoughts on aspects of our lives that we would like to change, we may start to obsess about our bodies instead. When we project our negative feelings into our bodies it makes it hard to get at the underlying problem. We split off the feelings that we want to deny and project them into our bodies instead.
Instead of engaging with the negative feelings we have, about situations or other people or ourselves, we hate our bodies instead.
- The problem is that you can’t simply choose not to have these kinds of problems. They become too deep-rooted for that.
- But what you can do is learn to spot when your tendency to become self-critical is becoming active.
- You can become better at recognising that, and you can learn to use that insight to help break the negative habit.
I Hate Myself – taking it out on the Body
When we are constantly judging ourselves and our appearance, the body ends up becoming like an object, alien to us, we project our doubts and insecurities into it. From here it can be a small step to go from starting to think of things we would like to change, diet, to more extreme cosmetic solutions.
Perhaps surgery will give us some respite from the negative feelings, but it is just as likely that the negative feelings will return.
When we repress our more primitive feelings about ourselves we lose the capacity to live and express our creativity, our creativity becomes syphoned off into our body dysmorphia.
An Attack on your Creativity – I Hate Myself
By focussing all our attention on the way our bodies have let us down we stop ourselves from developing.
We regress back to moments in our lives when things have failed to develop as we wanted them to. We repress our feelings; we turn inwards, so our hatred of our bodies gets in the way of us being able to live, develop and express our creativity, to being able to grow.
Can we find ways to accept and take pleasure in our bodies and look after ourselves better without reaching for obsessive, cosmetic, pharmaceutical or surgical solutions?
Can we learn to be less obsessive, and more tolerant of ourselves and our bodies?
I don’t care if it hurtsRadiohead, Creep
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I’m not around
So fuckin’ special
I wish I was special
Eating Disorders and Self-Hatred
Eating disorders can develop out of the way we try to control a part of our lives when we feel we have no control over anything else. We take pleasure in the satisfaction of being able to exert control over this one area of our lives.
The obsessive satisfaction that is derived from an eating disorder is complicated. It operates from its own private place of control. There is generally no reasoning with an eating disorder. Perhaps the unhappy mind has retreated to a secret internal place where it can exert power over the body, but ultimately this creates more complications. Mental health suffers more, the problems become more obscure and hard to understand and reason with.
Eating disorders are like addictions
They are perverse and private ways of deriving satisfaction and control. It is often helpful for someone who is trying to manage an eating disorder to work in psychotherapy and in a 12-step programme. 12-step programmes work on a ‘one day at a time basis’.
A 12-step daily programme of self-care might be required to help the sufferer acquire a better and more balanced way of living. This can be a way of acquiring new tools that help us to remember when we are becoming caught up in the obsessive spiral of hatred and control and so offer us a way to break the cycle.
Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often key to developing a clearer understanding of our reactions and feelings about ourselves. It can be a way to build up a helpful picture of what is going on, of when we are becoming caught up in an obsessive cycle.
By giving yourself a safe space to speak you may start to recover confidence in yourself and your reactions.
The chance to reflect on your memories, feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed.
I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years. My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.
Mobile: +44 7980 750376