Our Research Aim
To better understand how visual and emotional information is processed in people with body dysmorphic disorder and those with anorexia nervosa, and how this relates to the symptoms they experience.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric condition that is characterized by abnormally low weight and refusal to maintain a minimally normal weight. It is accompanied by intense fear of weight gain or being "fat," even when underweight, and denial of the seriousness of the effects of extreme weight loss. It is also associated with a distorted perception of the body, and one’s self-worth being overly influenced by body weight or shape.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a body image disorder in which individuals are preoccupied with a perceived flaw in physical appearance, which can result in severe functional impairment and suffering. Individuals with BDD usually focus on one or more aspects of their appearance, such as skin, nose, hair, eyes (or any other part of their appearance), which they believe to be defective or ugly. Individuals with BDD often feel depressed, anxious and ashamed. Their degree of anguish and distress is such that it interferes with their day-to-day activities such as work, school, or social situations.
BDD is believed to affect 1-2% of the general population. It also affects as many as 6-14% of those in mental health settings presenting with an anxiety or depressive disorder, 10-15% of those in dermatology settings, and 6-15% in cosmetic surgery settings.
People with BDD frequently compare their appearance to others and check their appearance in mirrors or other reflective surfaces. They often camouflage their perceived flaw with make-up, hair, or clothing. They may change their body position to only allow people to see them from certain angles or in certain lightinig conditions. Other behaviors include mirror avoidance, skin picking and seeking out dermatologists or plastic surgeons with the hope they can overcome the distress by changing the perceived defect.