Book Review: Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The Illusion, by Zoe Wybrant

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):

A.  Preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.
B.  At some point during the course of the disorder, the individual has performed repetitive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance with that of others ) in response to the appearance concerns.
C.  The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D.  The appearance preoccupation is not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight in an individual whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

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.

  • all too easy

    “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.”

    It may be a sign of a genetic vulnerability; it isn’t proof and doctors understand that. They ask about high-blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, too.

    “One of the great evils of psychiatry is the fact that its spurious medicalization of all human problems is fundamentally disempowering.”
    That is not true. Dr. Phil is being less than candid each time he makes this statement of fact.
    “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…”
    Dr. Phil knows better yet he persists. Not every problem is an illness. Thinking that that is true may be an illness. How easy it is to see these blind spots of the anti crowd as if they are the victims of mass hypnosis or The Manchurian Candidate syndrome.

  • Sweet63

    DId you see the ads for “binge eating disorder”? I wonder what kind of wonder drug they came up with for that “disease.”

  • Sarah

    The DCP, a division of the British Psychological Society, in 2013 released a position statement, supporting that psychiatric diagnoses disempowers ‘service users’. This is one of Britain’s leading psychological bodies, and it’s opinion hasn’t been formed from an unfounded hatred towards psychiatry. In fact, there are even psychiatrists who agree with the message that is being conveyed. If you tell a person they are ill, they come to believe it. They absorb themselves in literature about their ‘illness’, and whether they like it or not, subconsciously, they come to accept their fate that they have little to no control. And so they become dependent on medical professionals, and medications.

    I am not sure why every post to Phil sets out to attack his views, but I am sure he doesn’t mind hearing them, after all blogs often provoke debates.

    I agree myself with Phil’s thinking. But this doesn’t mean that I think that I believe psychiatrists are bad people. I wonder if you construe his views as an attack upon a profession that you clearly embrace?

    In every profession there are good and bad apples. But I think the problem lays not with the people, but with the model in that psychiatry embraces – a disease model.

    You say that asking a person if ‘depression runs in their family’ is to acknowledge that there ‘may be’ a genetic vulnerability, and that doctors understand that this isn’t proof. I think that what you are saying here, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that it’s simply a process of ‘deduction’ – right?

    Fair enough. But suppose, as in the above quote, a person’s mother has suffered with depression as a result of a divorce, and grandmother, as the result of having lost a child… are you aware that doctors aren’t interested in the cause of the family’s depression? That the question is never asked?

    Surely if this is a mere case of deduction, this would be the next logical question.

    What is recorded within medical assessments/histories, isn’t that ‘Martha is suffering from a depressive episode, resulting from grief. Her father also suffered depression, as a result of bankruptcy.’ What IS recorded reads like the following…

    ‘Martha is suffering from a depressive episode. Depression runs in her family, her father also suffered with depression.’

    This leaves people wide-open to interpretation. Medical histories in some respects are no different from gossip. They are comprised from hearsay and opinion, as much as they are from facts.

    I notice you mention high blood-pressure… it is true, doctors do ask patients if high blood pressure runs in the family. But again, they don’t ask if stress runs in the family. Nor is it often recorded, when people are under immense stress, at the time they are diagnosed with high blood pressure. Recently in the news it was acknowledged that because of this, millions of people may have been wrongly prescribed high-blood pressure tablets.

    Heart-disease? The same applies. What should be asked, is does an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and stress run in your family? And if this is the case, then isn’t it more appropriate to put heart disease down to life-style, rather than genetic make-up?

    If on the other hand, many people in a person’s family suffered from heart-disease or high blood pressure, yet they lived healthy life-styles, then it would make sense to focus on the biology.

    I am genuinely interested ‘alltooeasy’ to understand why you are so against the notion, that psychiatry can be damaging? Do you believe that it helps the majority of people? Do you embrace medications? And what are your thoughts on the many people who speak out about the damage psychiatry has done to them?

  • Sarah

    The DCP, a division of the British Psychological Society, in 2013 released a position statement, supporting that psychiatric diagnoses disempowers ‘service users’. This is one of Britain’s leading psychological bodies, and it’s opinion hasn’t been formed from an unfounded hatred towards psychiatry. In fact, there are even psychiatrists who agree with the message that is being conveyed. If you tell a person they are ill, they come to believe it. They absorb themselves in literature about their ‘illness’, and whether they like it or not, subconsciously, they come to accept their fate that they have little to no control. And so they become dependent on medical professionals, and medications.

    I am not sure why every post to Phil sets out to attack his views, but I am sure he doesn’t mind hearing them, after all blogs often provoke debates.

    I agree myself with Phil’s thinking. But this doesn’t mean that I think that I believe psychiatrists are bad people. I wonder if you construe his views as an attack upon a profession that you clearly embrace?

    In every profession there are good and bad apples. But I think the problem lays not with the people, but with the model in that psychiatry embraces – a disease model.

    You say that asking a person if ‘depression runs in their family’ is to acknowledge that there ‘may be’ a genetic vulnerability, and that doctors understand that this isn’t proof. I think that what you are saying here, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that it’s simply a process of ‘deduction’ – right?

    Fair enough. But suppose, as in the above quote, a person’s mother has suffered with depression as a result of a divorce, and grandmother, as the result of having lost a child… are you aware that doctors aren’t interested in the cause of the family’s depression? That the question is never asked?

    Surely if this is a mere case of deduction, this would be the next logical question.

    What is recorded within medical assessments/histories, isn’t that ‘Martha is suffering from a depressive episode, resulting from grief. Her father also suffered depression, as a result of bankruptcy.’ What IS recorded reads like the following…

    ‘Martha is suffering from a depressive episode. Depression runs in her family, her father also suffered with depression.’

    This leaves people wide-open to interpretation. Medical histories in some respects are no different from gossip. They are comprised from hearsay and opinion, as much as they are from facts.

    I notice you mention high blood-pressure… it is true, doctors do ask patients if high blood pressure runs in the family. But again, they don’t ask if stress runs in the family. Nor is it often recorded, when people are under immense stress, at the time they are diagnosed with high blood pressure. Recently in the news it was acknowledged that because of this, millions of people may have been wrongly prescribed high-blood pressure tablets.

    Heart-disease? The same applies. What should be asked, is does an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and stress run in your family? And if this is the case, then isn’t it more appropriate to put heart disease down to life-style, rather than genetic make-up?

    If on the other hand, many people in a person’s family suffered from heart-disease or high blood pressure, yet they lived healthy life-styles, then it would make sense to focus on the biology.

    I am genuinely interested ‘alltooeasy’ to understand why you are so against the notion, that psychiatry can be damaging? Do you believe that it helps the majority of people? Do you embrace medications? And what are your thoughts on the many people who speak out about the damage psychiatry has done to them?

  • Sarah

    Yes, I was thinking exactly the same!

  • all too easy

    “…are you aware that doctors aren’t interested in the cause of the family’s depression? That the question is never asked?”
    Let me suggest that the first thing you need to do is to establish that your statement quoted above is true. I don’t have anything to say until you back that up.
    Best wishes

  • Sarah

    Ahhh, the old get-out-clause!

    Indeed I have established that the above statement is true, from years of personal experience, and also from speaking with many others who have endured the diagnostic process. Perhaps, the question ought to be asked, but it isn’t in many cases.

    Best wishes to yourself also.

  • all too easy

    The antis are at it again. They make statements that aren’t true and when challenged they run away and try to blame others for their lies. Reminds me of the boob who goes to great lengths to prove ADHD isn’t real by concluding his long, useless rant that his two sons, who were never diagnosed by an M.D. as having it, managed just fine and thereby prove once and for all ADHD is a fraud.

    Shocking, coming from an anti. They go on and on about their opinions, stated as facts, to draw their opponents into never ending arguments that lead nowhere. I am way too advanced for them. This is the crowd that blames psychiatry for deceptive practices. Not them. Far be it for them to be full of nonsense. They are the crusaders against big pharma’s lies. They are the persecuted and victims of vicious lies perpetrated by the powerful and oppressive. They never resort to the temptation to fill their comments with untruths. They are ordained, the chosen ones, bearing the heavy burden to inform the whole world of this massive conspiracy, a far greater evil than the foreign drug cartels.

    These guys are a wonderfully entertaining gang of self-involved nuts, nothing more.

  • all too easy

    “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?”
    Lovely statement. Back it up, somebody, anybody, please. Go right ahead.
    They cannot. Left unchallenged, some people will believe them. They count on it. This is a perfect example of the kind of thing antis do endlessly without ever taking responsibility. I suppose most people simply ignore them. They figure these folks are harmless. They are so far out in left field, they have no credibility.
    If they influence one individual not to receive the kinds of benefits modern medicine offers, through the misinformation they spew, that is tragic. Really tragic. Much of what they say they believe is not supported through the literature. Their motives? I’d be speculating and it makes no difference, anyway. The impact they hope to achieve, their goals, their rationale for doing what they do, all boil down to one thing: to deny you and me and our loved ones the right to access health care as we see fit.

  • Sarah

    Jolyon Cunningham, a young man who was diagnosed with ‘Body Dysmorphia’, and who appeared in a documentary about the ‘disorder’ in 2006, committed suicide in 2013. He turned to numerous psychiatrists, including the UK’s “leading specialist”, but was failed. Standard psychiatric treatment did not help him. And he is not the only person who has been failed by psychiatry. Many people who are diagnosed with this disorder (and many other disorders) go on to struggle, for years.

    Before you reply to this, I suggest that you watch the following news clip, in that his sister describes how during consultations with her brother, psychiatrists had appeared ‘bored’ (likely because rather than looking at him as an indivudual, and trying to understand his thinking, they were merely seeing ‘pattern-behaviour’. Something they have seen ‘time and time again’. So when explained how he was feeling, this was likely interpreted as the ‘usual ramblings of a person who is ill, and deluded’.

    If on-the-other-hand, he had been sat in front of a psychologist, I would wager my bottom-dollar that he would have been met with understanding, and enthusiasm… because every psychologist worth-their-salt, is passionate to help their clients overcome their problems. Psychologists are problem-solvers, they like to solve puzzles! You want an example of psychiatry failing people? Here’s a perfect example…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21377122

  • Sarah

    Jolyon Cunningham, a young man who was diagnosed with ‘Body Dysmorphia’, and who appeared in a documentary about the ‘disorder’ in 2006, committed suicide in 2013. He turned to numerous psychiatrists, including the UK’s “leading specialist”, but was failed. Standard psychiatric treatment did not help him. And he is not the only person who has been failed by psychiatry. Many people who are diagnosed with this disorder (and many other disorders) go on to struggle, for years.

    Before you reply to this, I suggest that you watch the following news clip, in that his sister describes how during consultations with her brother, psychiatrists had appeared ‘bored’ (likely because rather than looking at him as an indivudual, and trying to understand his thinking, they were merely seeing ‘pattern-behaviour’. Something they have seen ‘time and time again’. So when explained how he was feeling, this was likely interpreted as the ‘usual ramblings of a person who is ill, and deluded’.

    If on-the-other-hand, he had been sat in front of a psychologist, I would wager my bottom-dollar that he would have been met with understanding, and enthusiasm… because every psychologist worth-their-salt, is passionate to help their clients overcome their problems. Psychologists are problem-solvers, they like to solve puzzles! You want an example of psychiatry failing people? Here’s a perfect example…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-21377122

  • all too easy

    “You want an example of psychiatry failing people? Here’s a perfect example…”
    I never asked for an example of psychiatry failing people.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Sarah,

    Good points. Thanks for coming in.

  • Sarah

    Alltooeasy, you persistently question every article that Phil Hickey posts, and reply to almost every positive response. You condemn every person who does not embrace psychiatry, and you defend the practice as if you are defending a religion. I have offered you an example psychiatry failing a person, and your only response is to dodge it…

    You would make a wonderful politician!

  • all too easy

    I never asked for an example of psychiatry failing people.
    Nice try

  • all too easy

    “…are you aware that doctors aren’t interested in the cause of the family’s depression? That the question is never asked?” Sarah

    “Good points. Thanks for coming in” Dr. Phil

    But Phil, old buddy, old pal, Et tu Brute?

  • cledwyn oodpoods

    One of the obvious reasons why people develop this so-called disorder is because of school bullying. It is a measure of just how ignorant people are that they fail to understand that sending a child to a school for ten years, when the foundation for our understanding of self and others is laid, where he is preyed upon by little merciless nano-cannibals every day, is going to lead to serious “psychiatric” problems. Yet school bullying is a national institution in my country, so rarely does this major determinant of “mental health” problems come under scrutiny.

    I mean, youngsters between the ages of 7 and 18 really are, as a general rule, completely vile. Most of them are just hyenas, who just laugh cretinously and maliciously at everything, taking a kind of bovine pride in their own stupidity and depravity common amongst fools who, as is their wont, mistake their inferiority for superiority, laughing and scratching their heads like chimpanzees at the sight of anyone who happens to be different, blissfully deprived of insight into the joke that is themselves.

    They live like animals, in that their center of gravity is almost entirely in the environment, so they pick up on any irregularity therein, and, unlike other animals, they then proceed to mercilessly and cruelly mock it. Their lives are so feckless, there is no depravity they won’t stoop to escape contemplation thereupon, not least of all tormenting some misfit around the persecution of which they can all unite.

    And what do adults say? “Kids will be kids!”, or some other thought-terminating cliche that allows people to evade the use of that much-neglected organ they keep mostly undisturbed and enclosed in their cranial cavities; and the cannibal’s orgy that is childhood goes on and on and on, until one day the species, perhaps under the occult influence of some collective subconscious suicidal impulse, destroys itself through nuclear war or global warming, and the curtain is mercifully drawn over the whole tragi-farce called human existence, and all the creatures in the cosmos, the captive audience of this grotesque spectacle our species’ existence affords, can breathe a sigh of relief, as one does when one makes it to the end of an advertisement break, or some such other thing that occasions embarrassment and disgust in equal measure.

    Yes, kids will be kids!

    Cannibals will be cannibals, more like! Murderers will be murderers! Swines will be swines!

    All the worst aspects of humanity reach their climax in people of such an age group. I’d gladly kill myself just to be rid of the callous spectacle of a pack of these budding cannibals tormenting the rest of us with their malicious sneers and sniggers.

    For every happy child/teenager, there is some other child’s dead body lying somewhere in a pool of its own blood; some poor sod hanging from a tree; some tormented soul preparing himself/herself for a career as a psychiatric patient.

    Not that this kind of behavior is confined to that age group, obviously, just that it is much more difficult to detect because of the veil of hypocrisy cast about the adult world. In adulthood, the average individual in modern society is wont to make a pretence of running with the hare, whilst in actuality he is hunting with the hounds just like most other people. Perhaps this is why we (not me) love children so much; there’s something naive and endearing about the way they prey upon each other without the hypocrisy that we find in the adult predator.

    People scratch their vacant heads in amazement at the school shootings. How could it happen!!?? I say, why does it happen more often? I mean, obviously, I’m not condoning the act, but given what a child is, indeed, what man is; given his intolerance, his sadism, his malicious stupidity, his insatiable hunger for tormenting others, and the cowardly way in which he gangs up on his fellow man (which of course lies at the root of man’s herd instinct, because the more people a man gets along with, the more people he can gang up on others with, which also explains what Elias Canetti in his superb book, “Crowds and Power”, identified as the expansionist impulse operating in crowds), tendencies found in their purest concentrations amongst youngsters; given all this, why isn’t this happening everyday?

    Alas, a person’s understanding of himself is forged within the crucible of childhood experience. For the victim of persistent school bullying, a career as a psychiatric patient is something of a logical progression from his career as a mere object to prop up the self-esteem of others.

    Such people are inculcated upon to loathe themselves. When they look at themselves in the mirror they see only the image reflected back to them by their tormentors. They develop negative habits of thought about themselves whose roots grow and strengthen over the years. By the time they go to see a psychiatrist or some other mental health professional, the damage has been done, and is often found to be irreversible. This is why cognitive behavioral therapy has such limited success; you can’t uproot in a few sessions, even over a few years, negative habits of thought and feeling whose roots extend back over decades, and have been carefully nourished over the years by repetition.

    This, I would say, explains so much of the paranoia, depression, social anxiety, and so-called disorders like the one under discussion in Phil’s review.

    For such people, escape into pharmacological oblivion, although it may not be in their best long-term interests, is understandable.

    It is this understanding of man’s fundamental inhumanity to man that informs my advocacy of suicide. The facts of the matter are, people engaged in the coercive, often violent prohibition of suicide are not existential alchemists, the possession of such alchemical powers allowing them to turn the base materials of human existence into gold.

    As I’ve said before, the only refuge the world offers from the inhumanity of our fellows is the grave, which people often seek for this very reason. The suicide prevention brigade certainly are powerless to change the kind of things that allow people to muster the almost Herculean courage, that nullifies their fear of pain and death, required if one is to top oneself (yet we have the nerve to call such people cowards. No. We are the cowards for not having the courage to kill ourselves. Few people would make it past adolescence if it weren’t for man’s timor mortis and if all he had to do was press a button to return to the state of nothingness whence he came).

    Anyway, leaving it to psychiatrists to stay the suicide’s hand is as absurd as leaving a fox to look after the hens; like entrusting rape therapy to rapists; like turning over someone over with an infectious disease, for treatment, to a carrier thereof. Psychiatry is part of the problem it purports to remedy.

  • Neo

    Cledwyn I always enjoy your colorful and insightful comments. Perhaps the only place we disagree is with regard to the meaning of existence. The schooling never ends. Suicide is dropping out.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Sweet63,

    The drug is Vyvanse, a CNS stimulant which, surprise, surprise, can cause psychotic or manic “symptoms”. It’s also addictive and can cause sudden death!

    Best wishes.

  • Neo

    Psychotic is not the right word. Reality is far stranger than most can imagine. Those who do are deemed psychotic. That is not to say amphetimines will not cause delusions. They do. Getting a grip on reality is hard enough without them.

  • cledwyn bulbs

    It is a cruel fact of life that our happiness in this world, insofar as it can be said this is possible, is largely contingent upon the way we look.

    David Hume, in his “Treatise on Human Nature”, asserted that nothing gives a man more pleasure than either knowledge, or the delusion, of his own physical beauty. Conversely, nothing causes greater emotional pain than the knowledge or belief in our own physical inadequacy.

    Not only that, but feelings occasioned by the belief in our own ugliness, often resolve themselves into aggression, which can lead to self-harm and suicide, because in both cases what we are actually often dealing with, I would say, is aggression turned against ourselves, which explains why some people choose the most gruesome, painful methods wherewith they either inflict a great injury upon themselves or dispose of their existence.

    As is often the case in life, the truth is grim, and by no means rewarding emotionally. If happiness can be said to exist in this world, it is largely a window of opportunity open either for people who are physically beautiful or who simply believe that they are. These two preconditions not being met, then life is unbearable, unless perhaps the individual is of a particularly brutish, insensitive nature.

    One of the functions of diagnoses like these is to provide a safety blanket protecting us from the truth that life is a bitch. People suffering from this disorder are often the victims of nature’s treachery, which apportions beauty, perhaps to be considered its greatest blessing, only to a few, and curses the rest of us, for whom nature is little more than a sinister mocking presence, and beauty likewise.

    The diagnosis basically aims to reassure people. Yet the truth is, some people are born beautiful, some people aren’t, and such people, short of deluding themselves, are going to experience great suffering because of this. The worst thing is, such is the evil of nature’s ways, sometimes, people who are born ugly are possessed of such a romantic sensibility, that there can be little doubt that such people would have better never been born at all, such is the extremity of the suffering they undergo.

    I mean, look at the story of “The Elephant Man”. Can there be any greater proof that life is a kind of absurd nightmare, and that nature is cruel, and that it would have been better if existence had never happened at all? What do all the Panglossian optimists have to say to that? How can such suffering ever be justified? It quite simply can’t. Anyone who says life is beautiful is a solipsist, and their love of life a sinister mockery, as Schopenhauer said, of the suffering of others.

    Sometimes the aggression occasioned by the knowledge of or belief in one’s physical inadequacy is discharged on the very symbols of its opposite, beauty. Yukio Mishima, who brutally disemboweled himself after a lifetime of struggling with his own unshakable belief that he was grotesquely ugly, wrote a novel about a deformed Buddhist monk, based on a true story, who burns down a temple which for him symbolizes the beauty whose existence torments him, reflecting back to him his own deformity.

    Of course, this explains the inordinate amount of time and money people pour into beautifying themselves; anything to escape the ineffable pain we feel at the sight of our own ugliness.

    Much of this pain can be traced to the fact that people, when choosing sexual partners, in their judgements ignore the person’s inner being, and tend to put stress on all the surrounding superficialities, particularities and trivialities of appearance, which prepossess the judgement favorably, so that even if a man is an insipid, tasteless, boorish moron, and the lover an intelligent woman say, then the latter will nevertheless be powerless to see this, and will always choose him over someone not so physically attractive but nevertheless better suited in other regards. Isn’t human nature a wonderful thing?

  • Zoe

    I am saddened (but not surprised) to learn that once again companies are cashing-in on human distress. Comfort-eating is once of the most common means of dealing with unhappiness. It’s ridiculous to label it as a ‘disorder’ and drug people for it. I can see the attraction however… this will make a good percentage of the population potential ‘customers’.

  • all too easy

    I a deeply disappointed that you, once again, failed to plum the depths of all the horror that can be found on this delightful topic. If you really wanted to and were willing to devote the time and energy necessary, you could have written a great 10,000 page novel on ugliness and how disgusting human nature really is. Of Human Bondage comes to mind.

    On the other hand, do you know who Mel Brooks is and what he looks like? How about Anne Bancroft? Do you know who William H. Macy is and how his mug looks? How about Felicity Huffman? David Petraeus? Paula Broadwell? Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Salman Rushdie, Padma Parvati Lakshmi, Adriana Lima, Marko Jaric?
    ,

  • Phil_Hickey

    Zoe,

    It is indeed ridiculous, and also harmful. But, as you say, it’s good for business. So psychiatry obliges.

  • cledwyn bulbs

    Someone on here makes the unfounded claim that we are conspiracy theorists. He has a point…. a crap one, but a point nevertheless.

    People do not need to conspire to do evil; self-deception and ignorance suffice. For example, if it is said of a politician that he is an opportunist exploiting his career for the surreptitious passage it affords to his will-to-power, it would be stupid to say that he conspires to fool people about the work he does with his high-minded conception thereof. It would be more accurate to say that he is deceiving himself. The same applies to psychiatrists and Big pharma execs. Man’s capacity for self-deception is, alas, a bottomless pit.

    As Robert Musil said, in a passage that should perhaps be the locus classicus for the elucidation of this point, to paraphrase, the image of a profession in the minds of the practitioners thereof is rarely very reliable.

    This same person criticized us also, to put it politely, concerning our criticism of the pseudoscientific nature of psychiatry, because most of our beliefs also lack a firm scientific foundation, which was said somewhere, perhaps on another page, but I can’t be bothered to subject myself any further to that person’s eye-sores. Yet the reason why at least some of us criticize psychiatric orthodoxy on such grounds is not because of a lack of scientific support per se, but in order to expose the profession’s usurpation of the language, methodology, and authority of science for rhetorical purposes, and to counter the persistent claims that orthodox psychiatric theories and practices have a granite scientific basis.

    As for your claim that you are far in advance of us, who are you trying to convince here? I’ll tell you; yourself.

    Coming back to this subject, part of the problem people have looking in the mirror lies with changes in the distribution of light and shade on the face that inevitably occur, meaning that a marked disparity is sometimes to be observed when the same person looks in different mirrors, or say, at different times of day. This creates much confusion. Some lighting effects mercifully obscures those details that in others are brought into sharper focus, and lends a different complexion to the skin.

    Also, when a person is consumed with negative emotions relating to the self, this colors his/her perception. Any blemish takes on overwhelming proportions in the mind of the individual when viewed in the mirror, and is focused on to the exclusion of other features, because when we feel bad about ourselves, just as our memory conjures up only bad memories, our eye focuses only on aspects of our appearance which reinforce these feelings, until they become distorted beyond all recognition, coming to assume a prominence in the image we have of ourselves projected in the mind’s eye that perhaps only vaguely corresponds with the reality.

    “…because our values dictate our emotions.”

    I don’t know about that. Yes, this might be the case sometimes, but more often our emotional states are dictated by our desires, passions and appetites, which often pre-exist experience. A person doesn’t feel the great emotional pain associated with amorous longing simply because of his values, but because of a deep-rooted desire for love and his/her carnal appetites. Changing one’s values will have little if no effect.

    Such is the strength of desire and appetite, they undermine our ability to think rationally, the same applying to the desire for popularity and fame.

    It is the awareness of this that is the cornerstone of my belief that no man can rationally be called sane; because he is at the mercy of subconscious forces to which the reasoning faculty is subject, which explains the madness of love, the reality distorting effects of self-loathing, the lunacy of celebrity hero-worship, mass hysteria and moral panics etc. etc., all of which are conveniently ignored or forgotten when people adjudge say, “schizophrenics”, to have some sort of, like the rest of their “mentally ill” brethren, monopoly on insanity, which of course is not to forget the universality of things like delusional thinking, which likewise is overlooked, although it must be accepted that perhaps most people are just completely blind to the foregoing lunacies brought forth by the sleep of sanity.

  • all too easy

    My dearest, poor, pathetic, pal Clodhopperpuss,

    “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine”. Your RX is to repeat that 25 times every day until symptoms of chronic, self-absorbed, self-interest, self-pity and incessant melancholic musings yield to a cheerio, happy-go-lucky, help-others spirit that will srike you like a bolt of heaven right between the eyes.

    Do not respond. Your fellow boob has issued a warrant for the arrest of any other boob who reads or responds to this violent, felonious, trolling bird-brain. Knowing how much you enjoy the great outdoors, I would hate to see them put your fanny in an iron prison of even greater misery

    Love, BB

  • all too easy

    Mel Brooks, who looks like he was hit in the head with a crow bar, married Anne Bancroft, who had a gorgeous face.

    Have you ever noticed the thing they call a face on Mick Jagger? And you think you have it bad.

    Wrong again, clydehopper.

  • Zoe

    Your use of satire makes for an amusing read, and you are very poetic. I enjoyed reading this.

  • Zoe

    Your use of satire makes for an amusing read, and you are very poetic. I enjoyed reading this.

  • Zoe

    I think when people are young, they are attracted to the exterior, more than the interior. But what attracts us to people can change. I used to find myself attracted to men with floppy hair and long eye-lashes (pretty boys), yet now I am attracted to intellect, wit, humour, compassion and positivity. If a man ticks these boxes, I will focus on his good points, and this is all I will se.

  • Zoe.

    ‘see’ even!

  • Zoe

    If you value the opinion of others, and this value is at the top of your list, you will feel unhappy if every person who responds to your posts, offers you negative feedback. And if your value in life is money, and you have non, then you will feel miserable. It could be argued that what you are truly miserable about, is the lack of what that money can buy for you… but many people who are wealthy, are miserable, because they consider themselves not wealthy enough. This is because their values are to be ‘the richest’, ‘most respected’, ‘most powerful’.

    Similarly, if your appearance is important to you, it may not necessarily be your appearance that you value, but the way in that people treat you. You may value love, affection, attention, acknowledgement… and without this you feel miserable. I would argue that our values indeed do dictate our emotions. What you have described as a ‘deep-rooted desire for love’ and ‘carnal appetites’, are values after all. Values/necessities, there is little difference. We can survive without love, unlike oxygen we won’t keel-over if it is missing from our life. However, we will likely be miserable if we value love/affection and don’t have it, because it is important to us.

    You are quite right about lighting, the topic has been covered within this book.

    I agree, that many of our thoughts, feelings and actions are affected on a subconscious level.

  • Zoe

    If you value the opinion of others, and this value is at the top of your list, you will feel unhappy if every person who responds to your posts, offers you negative feedback. And if your value in life is money, and you have non, then you will feel miserable. It could be argued that what you are truly miserable about, is the lack of what that money can buy for you… but many people who are wealthy, are miserable, because they consider themselves not wealthy enough. This is because their values are to be ‘the richest’, ‘most respected’, ‘most powerful’.

    Similarly, if your appearance is important to you, it may not necessarily be your appearance that you value, but the way in that people treat you. You may value love, affection, attention, acknowledgement… and without this you feel miserable. I would argue that our values indeed do dictate our emotions. What you have described as a ‘deep-rooted desire for love’ and ‘carnal appetites’, are values after all. Values/necessities, there is little difference. We can survive without love, unlike oxygen we won’t keel-over if it is missing from our life. However, we will likely be miserable if we value love/affection and don’t have it, because it is important to us.

    You are quite right about lighting, the topic has been covered within this book.

    I agree, that many of our thoughts, feelings and actions are affected on a subconscious level.

  • Rob Bishop

    People point to genetics regarding a history of family depression, anxiety, addiction, etc.. But in reality, our parents teach us these things. Children mimic their parent’s self destructive behaviors and inability to cope with emotional disturbances. (Dad gets drunk when he is stressed and want to escape his feelings, therefore that’s the normal way to deal with unwanted feelings…numb out)

  • Phil_Hickey

    Rob,

    Thanks for pointing this out.