My new book, Childhood Abuse, Body Shame, and Addictive Plastic Surgery – The Face of Trauma, is not just a plastic surgery book. It is largely a book about how childhood abuse and neglect can distort thinking. Severely abused people have portions of their brains that never develop. Thinking and memory become distorted. These tortured people feel shamed and defective, and medicating pain with addictions or self-harming behaviors, of which addiction to plastic surgery is only one, along with eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, deliberate self-injury, or suicide.
The problem for these unfortunate individuals is that they don’t recognize what is happening. The mental health literature documents that only a few midline structures from the thinking “adult” cortex connect with the midbrain, the child’s brain where the damage was done.
What this means is that when triggered by something that reminds the patient of abuse or neglect in childhood, they feel the torment that they felt at that time but don’t know where it comes from. So they blame those around them.
This has produced an interesting phenomenon with occasional one-star book reviews by former patients of mine. They are not really book reviews. These people are explaining ways that successful plastic surgery has ruined their lives.
Childhood abuse and neglect create body shame, and for some, a drive to plastic surgery. This anger would have been appropriate if vented years ago to the abusers, but it doesn’t seem rational now. Yet it is totally real to the patient reliving their childhood pain. That’s what makes body dysmorphic disorder and other fallout from childhood abuse and neglect so difficult to treat.