As I have spoken to mental health professionals over the last four years during the writing of my book, I have gotten two reactions. One is that my theory that body dysmorphic disorder stems from childhood abuse and neglect is already in the literature. It actually isn’t, but it seems so self-evident to them that they assume that it must be.
The second reaction is, “That makes complete sense, but I had never thought of it.” Both those responses make me even more sure that my theory is correct: body dysmorphic disorder does not rise out of the blue. The elements of BDD –– low self-esteem, family disharmony, depression, obsessions, and often other types of self-destructive behavior exist already as a result of the individual’s developmental trauma. The sense of shame and defectiveness attaches to the body during the teen years, and plastic surgery can become a way of seeking self-esteem.
This is the real genesis of body dysmorphic disorder. BDD is a disease of emotions, not deformity, which is why surgery is never effective.
The whole story is in my new text, Childhood Abuse, Body Shame, and Addictive Plastic Surgery: The Face of Trauma, out this month.