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Body dysmorphia test - do you have body dysmorphia?

Let’s talk about our bodies. All so different yet all so similar. We are machines that work so well when we plug the right stuff in and not so well when we don’t.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs offers the hypothesis that the primary needs of a human are air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, and reproduction. I hypothesise that we need to take this one step further:

  • clean air
  • clean water
  • nutrient-dense food
  • safe, warm, and dry shelter
  • enough sleep

With these things, the machine works well. The human needs more - friendship, intimacy, family, security and respect. The list goes on as the pyramid goes up. There is much more to being a human than what you see in the mirror, however, when you struggle with body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder (the official title) it does not feel that way.

What are the symptoms of body dysmorphia?

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation has a body dysmorphia test. However, you will receive a diagnosis of body dysmorphic disorder if you:

  • Have a preoccupation with at least one perceived defect or flaw in your physical appearance that is not obvious to others.
  • Perform repetitive behaviours that relate to the perceived defect such as mirror checking, skin picking, reassurance seeking or comparing your appearance to others.
  • This focus on your perceived defect causes significant distress or affects your life, personally or professionally.
  • But, if the preoccupation is to do with body size (overweight or underweight) you should check to see whether it is an eating disorder rather than body dysmorphia.

When you experience the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, your entire focus is on your perceived fault. The human being comes in many shapes and sizes. There is no perfect human prototype because, if there were, we would all be in the default box. No human has flaws, we are all simply different but that is not how you see or feel it.

When you make the decision that a part of your image is defective, you decide that a different look is the right look. As you perceive your defect and others cannot see it in the same way. Surgery to change it rarely fixes the problem because, really, there isn’t a problem.

As you spend much of your time checking your perceived defect when you try and use the mirror to find a normality you find it counterproductive. As the default is not in the body part but in the thinking, surgery is generally perceived as unsuccessful and rarely helps with the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. Frustratingly, 50% of people who have surgery to change a perceived default go on to develop a preoccupation with a different part of their body. 

How can hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy is shown in studies to reduce the symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. The main thing to keep in mind is that a hypnotherapist cannot change your body, but we can help you to change your perception of your body and help you redirect your thoughts so that you stop the constant checking, grooming and reassurance seeking.

When you seek a hypnotherapist to help you with body dysmorphia, first check that they will give you time to explain your situation in detail. Everyone has a different reason for their symptoms. The reasons range from bullying to trauma to social pressures. This is relevant to the therapy you receive.

Hypnotherapists use hypnosis to enhance the modality of therapy that we choose to use. Your hypnotherapist can help you to redirect your thinking away from your body image, so there is less draw to observe and judge your appearance. Your hypnotherapist might help you view your perceived default differently so you grow to love that part of your body. If necessary, you can ask your hypnotherapist to help you explore previous experiences to try and find the cause of your problem.

Hypnosis helps you see things in your mind more clearly than in a default state of mind. When you reflect, you might find that you realise the origin of the problem was not in fact your perceived defect but a problem with someone else or a situation. For example, when you look back, you might suddenly see that the person who picked on you for your big nose actually had a larger nose than you and used you as a diversion away from themself!

Some people find the thought of no longer viewing their body as defective scary. If this holds you back, I would like to reassure you that after therapy you will still feel like you. Hypnotherapy will help you feel like your normal self without the restriction of continually feeling faulty.

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10

Written by Juliet Hollingsworth

Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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