Dysmorphophobia: Unknown fear of your own ugliness

Dysmorphophobia: Unknown fear of your own ugliness

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Disturbed perception leads to the impression of being disfigured
Looking in the mirror is a psychological burden for those affected. The looks of others are also scanned and supposedly analyzed. According to experts, around one million people in Germany suffer from dysmorphophobia. The patients feel ugly for no reason. The causes of this have not yet been researched. It is clear that in many cases the reasons lie in childhood.

Up to a million people affected by KDS "I am ugly and disfigured and everyone is staring at me" - those who think so may suffer from so-called dysmorphophobia, a perceptual disorder that affects up to one million people in Germany. Characteristic of the disease, also known as body dysmorphic disorder (KDS), is the fear of being severely disfigured by a flaw - although this does not exist or is only minimally recognizable. The face and head are most often perceived as deformed, for example due to a supposedly too large nose, a suspected asymmetry of the facial features, acne or scars.

Fear of rejection often leads to social withdrawal. As a result, those concerned deal excessively with the imagined blemish, which more and more solidifies the impression of their own unattractiveness and, even if there is a slight physical anomaly, exaggerated concern. As a result, those affected feel permanently stared at by others and fear that the alleged disfigurement could lead to rejection and disregard. This often has fatal consequences, because fear of rejection means that many people with KDS withdraw from social life and isolate themselves.

Affected people are often very attractive Behavior is often incomprehensible to outsiders, because “those affected are often very attractive. Their self-assessment deviates greatly from their actual appearance, ”psychologist Viktoria Ritter from the University of Frankfurt / Main told the news agency“ dpa ”. In her research on dysmorphophobia, she found out, among other things, that those affected by KDS were above average sensitive to aesthetic proportions and would therefore immediately perceive even minimal differences. But the fact that this could actually be a disease is often only recognized late, because the question "Am I beautiful?" Every now and then, every now and then, the psychologist continues.

Bullying and rejection in childhood as a possible cause The specific triggers of dysmorphophobia are not yet known, but experts consider both biological and sociocultural factors possible. Correspondingly, for example, bullying or teasing or even media-mediated beauty ideals could favor the emergence of KDS, because especially in formats such as "Germany's next top model" or many previous series, attractiveness and success are usually closely linked. "The causes are often in childhood," said psychotherapist Stefan Brunhoeber to "dpa". Here, among other things, “overprotection”, but also constant criticism and rejection can lead to people feeling ugly and disfigured, the expert continues. (sb, nr)

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