Body Dysmorphic Disorder is one of the so-called mental disorders listed in the DSM-5. The manual lists the following diagnostic criteria, (p 242):
Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The Illusion, discusses this “disorder” from the perspective of someone who has struggled with these issues herself. Zoe challenges the usefulness of diagnosis and standard psychiatric treatment – and provides an abundance of clearly-stated contributory factors, together with suggestions for self-help.
The book reads nicely, and would be helpful for anyone who is troubled with these kinds of concerns, or for therapists/counselors who encounter these kinds of issues in their work. Here are some quotes:
“A child who is never encouraged nor praised, nor shown affection, may harbour feelings of insecurity and low self-worth, because when we are rejected, we wonder why.”
“If we have tooth-ache pain-relief does not remove our pain, it numbs it, temporarily. We must address the cause of the tooth-ache to solve the problem. The same applies to anxiety.”
“Being diagnosed as mentally ill leads us to believe our problem is out of our hands. The key to beating anxiety is taking control, how can we do this if we believe we have none?”
“I wonder if you have ever encountered a questionnaire that has asked if there is a ‘history of depression’ in your family? If you answer yes, the problem can be interpreted as genetic, but most people at some point encounter depression. Our mother may have experienced depression as the result of a divorce, and our grandmother having lost a child. Unfortunately when ‘family history of depression’ is recorded, it suggests depression is part of our genetic make-up. One of my own assessments read to this effect, it’s terribly misleading.”
“If you value popularity then you will always feel unhappy if you are unpopular. Having a happy family, loving partner, and wealth will not remove this unhappiness, because our values dictate our emotions.”
“You only get one shot at life so don’t run away from yourself as I did. If you are smart embrace it. If you have a sense-of-humour share it. If you are creative then express yourself. If something leads you to feel good grab it with both hands, as long as it doesn’t cause another pain or sadness. When we are happy we are relaxed and when we are relaxed we are confident, and confidence attracts people to us.”
“Never apologise if you have nothing to apologise for. The moment we apologise we are accepting we have done something wrong. It’s easy for people to take advantage. Furthermore, we then feel we have done something wrong.”
One of the great evils of psychiatry is the fact that its spurious medicalization of all human problems is fundamentally disempowering. The message, endlessly repeated in adverts, infomercials, and psychiatric opinion pieces, is that human problems are illnesses which need to be “treated” by medical experts, usually through toxic drugs, which they euphemistically describe as medications. Psychiatry has eroded, and in some areas, virtually eliminated, the notion that people can help themselves overcome counterproductive perceptions, mindsets, and behaviors. The Illusion offers a refreshing and much-needed counterpoint to this perspective.
This book is available in electronic form at Amazon (UK) and is highly recommended. It will soon be available in paperback format as well.
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Disclaimer: I have no financial ties to this book or to any materials recommended on this website.