Imagined ugliness treatment (body Dysmorphic disorder)

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Imagined ugliness

Imagined ugliness or body Dysmorphic disorder(BDD) is a disorder that makes a person believes that he is ugly or unattractive.

The problem with this disorder is that the mental picture a person has for himself in his mind usually has nothing to do with his real looks and as a result his social life gets affected. (see Social isolation causes).

Some people who have BDD argue by saying that if they were really good looking then they won't have had doubts about their physical appearance but if those people knew that some famous celebrities have BDD then they would have not used that argument.

Plastic surgery is one of the methods that people who have imagined ugliness use to feel good about themselves but it rarely solves their problems.

Because the problem resides mainly in the way the person processes the image of his face (his perception of his physical looks) and not with his real looks plastic surgery usually doesn't solve the problem.

Imagined ugliness treatment (body Dysmorphic disorder)

So how can imagined ugliness be treated?
While imagined ugliness is a persistent disorder you can still get rid of it if you persistently kept applying the following advice:

  • 1) Stop connecting rejections with your physical appearance: One of the main reasons Imagined ugliness persists is that people keep connecting the rejections they get with their physical looks. People who have BDD assume that each rejection they get is caused by their ugly looks! In order to get rid of that disorder the first step you need to do is to educate yourself about the possible reasons for rejections. Once you do so you will realize that most of the rejections you got had nothing to do with your physical looks (see also How to deal with rejection and How to like your looks)
  • 2) Understand the psychology of attraction: Sometimes a person can believe that he is ugly just because he dislikes one of his facial features but when that person understands what really attracts people to each other he will stop obsessing about trivial matters such as the shape of his nose. In other words you got attraction incorrectly! you might be obsessing about things that has no real weight in the attraction process. Learning more about the psychology of attraction can help you treat your BDD (see also 5 things you should know about attractiveness perception)
  • 3) Keep a compliments journal: Just as collecting negative evidence about your looks can strengthen the imagined ugliness problem collecting positive data can help you get rid of this problem. Document the compliments you get about your looks, write down the names of the people who like you and keep on eye on those who unconsciously send you body language attraction signals. Write everything down and if you collected more positive data than negative data then your problem will be solved
  • 4) Know how to pause for pictures: If a person suffers from imagined ugliness and was in the same time not photogenic then the problem may get worse. That person usually gets a lot of negative evidence everyday (the pictures taken of him). First of all you need to understand that the way you look in pictures has nothing to do with the way people perceive your looks in real life. Next you need to learn how to pause for pictures in order to stop getting this negative data about your looks (see also I look ugly in pictures)

The battle between positive and negative data

Getting over BDD is all about unlearning the bad habits that force you to collect negative data about your looks and learning new positive habits that enable you to collect positive data.

When the negative data you collect about your physical appearance exceeds the positive ones then you might suffer from imagined ugliness. If you managed to collect more positive data than negative data then your problem will be over.

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