Research Paper

sychology of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Term Paper Submitted by:

John Smith

Save your time - order a paper!

Get your paper written from scratch within the tight deadline. Our service is a reliable solution to all your troubles. Place an order on any task and we will take care of it. You won’t have to worry about the quality and deadlines

Order Paper Now

El Centro College

PSYC 2314, Section 53001, Spring 2018

















Barahmand and Shahbazi (2015) defined body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) as a disorder that arises from exaggerated self-beliefs that a person’s appearance does not conform with their personal belief about beauty. BDD affects many individuals and the circumstance and the environment may contribute to the presence of the disorder. The individual with BDD also may have concurrent mental health issues. There are circumstances that contribute to a person acquiring the disorder, and mental health issues that usually accompany BDD. People that have BDD often think they look abnormal and that there is something unsuitable about their body, usually specific parts of their body (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). They see themselves as faulty, flawed, and defective (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). These individuals mistreat themselves by telling themselves lies in their head about the way they look. (Dlagnikova & Niekerk, 2015). The despair absolutely destroys these people inside, sometimes to the verge of death (Muphy & Flessner, 2015). This population will frequently go to extremes to attempt to repair what they view is broken (Parker, 2014).

Psychology of Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is defined as an obsession with one’s body part/parts that the person believes looks abnormal or wrong (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). This imperfection can be real or imagined. If it is real, it is usually small and insignificant. The person with BDD will blow this issue up to very large proportions (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). Head and body hair, facial features, skin blemishes, thighs, stomach, breasts, buttocks, and genitals are the most common areas involved in these obsessions (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). Women tend to have more issues with BDD than men (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). BDD is classified as a somatoform disorder. It has been linked to major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015).

The direct cause of BDD is unknown, but there are several social and biological situations that can increase the likelihood of developing BDD. Social factors such as the societal concentration on appearance and perfection and the cultural beauty ideal contribute to the formation of BDD in an individual. Biological causes that may lead to BDD include a serotonin and dopamine imbalance, which causes neurotransmitters to not send or receive signals correctly (Karges, 2017).

The purpose of this paper about Body dysmorphic disorder is twofold: to learn more about the world and its people and to understand why so many women hate the way they look.

Literature Review

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) affects people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientations, races, incomes, and education levels (Murphy & Flessner, 2015). BDD manifests as a person constantly thinking about something that they think is wrong, ugly, or different about their body (Neda Week 2014, 2014). These thoughts may or may not be true. The person is often delusional (Dlagnikova & Niekerk, 2015).

Any body part can be loathed or receive disapproval. BDD does not discriminate. The most frequently complained about regions of the body are the hair on the face and head, facial features, skin blemishes, thighs, stomach, breasts, buttocks, and genitals (Body Dysmorphic Disorder, 2016). The individual may focus on multiple body parts at the same time (Parker, 2014).

Adolescents and teens are at a higher risk of developing BDD. The average age of people diagnosed with BDD is seventeen (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). Normally a person will be diagnosed with BDD when these intrusive thoughts get in the way of their daily living/activities and they cannot function on a day to day basis (Murphy &Flessner, 2015).

The definition of somatoform disorder is a mental disability that manifests as physical symptoms that suggest illness or injury but can’t be explained by a medical condition (Karges, 2017). BDD can wreak havoc in the sufferer’s life. People with BDD are often unable to leave their home. They are riddled with fear of someone judging them by their appearance. They cannot face the risk and possibility of that happening to them (Parker, 2014). Occasionally, people with BDD become suicidal (Murphy & Flessner, 2015).

People with BDD often stand in front of the mirror obsessively examining or picking at their body (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). Many people get plastic surgery repeatedly, attempting to get the desired, unrealistic look that they think is the norm. They are also trying to correct the so-called defect (Parker, 2015). These BDD patients are in extreme agony and tortured by their perceived ugliness, therefore, they go to extreme lengths to fix it (Parker, 2014).

BDD has commonly been linked to social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and major depressive disorder (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015). Research has shown that BDD patients have at least one, if not all three of those additional disorders (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015).

It is no wonder people have BDD. It is impossible to avoid expectations regarding body image in our current society. The media portrays women as having stick thin figures, while most of the pictures are photoshopped models (Parker, 2014). They are everywhere. People have a strict view of what beauty looks like (Murphy & Flessner, 2015). People in different cultures are even starting to adopt the Western culture around weight ideals and what the body should look like, therefore, developing BDD (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015).

It is also reported that parents play a part in a child or adult becoming diagnosed with BDD (Dlagnikova & Niekerk, 2015). There are a variety of factors that need to be considered including parental mental health, parenting practices, family involvement, etc. Child anxiety has been associated with parental overinvolvement, high levels of overprotection, parental rejection, insecure parent, and child attachment and family dysfunction (Dlagnikova & Niekerk, 2015).

Tips to help a person manage the day-to-day realities of coping with BDD: One, do activities that make you feel good. Two, wear clothes that make you feel good. Three, accept that your visual perception may lack objectivity. Four, be mindful of your words. Five, remember that body acceptance isn’t about perfection or mastery (Parker, 2014).

Critical Analysis

Body dysmorphic disorder is very important because it affects people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientations, races, incomes, and education levels (Murphy & Flessner, 2015). People commit suicide because of not accepting and loving themselves the way they are. Young kids and adults are ending their lives because of the way they perceive themselves. Their mind says they don’t fit in. These thoughts that run rampant through these individuals are so real and painful that they don’t see any way out. In my opinion, this is a huge problem!

I am interested in this topic because I can relate to people with BDD. I too, at times, obsess about different ways that I don’t look ok. As to the degree or these thoughts or how long I stay in these thoughts, it is usually directly related to where I am at spiritually. This is the way I deal with this issue.

The researchers (Barahmand & Shahbazi, 2015) did a good job of explaining what BDD is, who it affects, and different ways it manifests in a person’s life. However, the author should have included more possible solutions to this growing epidemic. In the future, there should be some sort of study on how the brain sees something other than what is there. Also, there should be a more in-depth study on the root causes of a person ending up with BDD.

It may be helpful to pass a law around what the media can and can’t do. Photoshopping should be banished as it is very destructive. There will always be people that others see as having perfect bodies. I do think this would give the world a more realistic view of humanity, and how we are all perfectly imperfect.


Barahmand, U., & Shahbazi, Z. (2015). Prevalence of and associations between body dysmorphic concerns, obsessive beliefs and social anxiety. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 7(1), 54-63. Doi:10.1111/appy:12085

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (2016).

Dlagnikova, A., & van Niekerk, R. L. (2015). The prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder among South African university students. South African Journal of Psychiatry21(3), 104-106. doi:10.7196/SAJP.8251

Karges, C. (2017). Body dysmorphic disorder and why it’s so dangerous.

Murphy, Y. E., & Flessner, C. A. (2015). Family functioning in paediatric obsessive compulsive and related disorders. British Journal of Clinical Psychology54(4), 414-434. doi:10.1111/bjc.12088

Neda (2014). Neda week 2014: Thoughts on body dysmorphia.

Parker, R. (2014). Critical Looks: An Analysis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. British Journal of Psychotherapy30(4), 438-461. doi:10.1111/bjp.12119