Mirror-gazing or Body Dysmorphia

Image by N-Y-C from Pixabay

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterised by an excessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in your physical appearance. These “flaws” cause you extreme distress. In addition, your obsession with your image negatively affects your daily life and relationships.

You possibly have an idea that what you see in the mirror is an objective reality, so you don`t even question its validity. 

You tend to focus on one aspect of your physique and constantly compare yourself with others causing further distress. If this distress results in additional physical symptoms such as turning red due to embarrassment, your compulsion t keep checking yourself in mirrors or shiny surfaces escalates even further.

And, in your mind, your perception is confirmed in the mirror, ¬causing you further distress. But is your perception the same all the time? Is it the same, or does it change based on the subject of your comparison?

It does change based on your self-talk and focus. It`s not just what you see behind your perception; it`s your history, view, relationships, and beliefs. 

What is behind this behaviour?

According to Freud, body displacement is when people shift their impulses from an unacceptable target to a more acceptable or less threatening one. For example, you may be angry with your teacher for giving you a bad mark on your test, but what is behind your anger is feeling like a failure. Can you express that anger directly? Not really. So you choose someone else, and you ‘displace’ your anger by picking a fight with your partner, friends, family or onto yourself, your body.

BDD and mirrors

Many people living with BDD find seeing their reflection difficult, and that feeling reinforces their negative view of themselves. However, they hope that when they look in a mirror, they see something different and feel better about their appearance. Unfortunately, this mirror-gazing soon becomes counter-productive and reinforces their negative aesthetic judgement. These harsh judgements about the self can often lead to anxiety, depression, a self of shame and low self-esteem.

People with BDD focus on appearance; interestingly, they don`t judge others based only on appearance. They are much harder on themselves than on others. 

Therapy can help form a healthier view of yourself; please don`t let your perceived flaws control your life. None of us is perfect; you are worthy of who you are. You are made of many parts, and therapy can help you focus on everything.

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