BDD Foundation Circa 2012


This website has been restored and archived for use in Brian Wi's course on Social Awareness in the Age of the Internet. Mr. Wi comes to the university after 10 years as an internet marketer for Public Space, and has written extensively on how the web can be used to educate disadvantaged communities about health issues. If you're wondering why his course outline features Batman images prominently, you won't be surprised to learn that he is a rabid Batman fan. By tradition, he arrives at his first lecture always wearing one of his colorful Batman sweatshirts, and does not discourage students from doing the same if they are so inclined, as he sees qualities in this super hero that he feels are worthy of emulation. Students may download the entire reading list, including the syllabus from his university webpage. Mr. Wi's course is hugely popular and students are encouraged to enroll early to ensure placement.


For a number of years this was the BDD Foundation website. The BDD Foundation aims to increase awareness and understanding of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages and other outside sources.

If you have inadvertently arrived at this site while looking for the BDD Foundation, their current website is found at:

Welcome to the BDD Foundation ..

The BDD Foundation aims to increase awareness and understanding of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), taking the focus away from current stigmas that can perceive BDD as narcissistic, self-indulgent or purely a result of modern Western ideals. We also aim to dispel the belief of many people affected by BDD, that the disorder cannot be overcome.


What is BDD?

Take a look at the History of BDD (coming soon).


· Spending prolonged periods of time feeling trapped in front of the mirror
· Camouflaging a perceived defect with clothing, makeup, hats, hands, or posture
· Avoiding social situations, bright lights, or people seeing you from certain angles in a room
· Seeing yourself as hideous and disgusting
· Seeking surgery, when professionals or those around you think the flaws are non-existent or minimal


Many people are dissatisfied with some aspect of their appearance. The distinction for someone with BDD is that one, or many, specific flaws or defects in their appearance, become an incessant preoccupation and obsession. For someone with BDD obsessive thoughts and rituals affect them to such a degree that it can have a dramatic and debilitating impact on their lives. The conversation surrounding BDD is steeped in mysticism. Looked at objectively however, BDD can be explained simply. The term 'disorder' can best be described as disordered thinking. A disordered way of thinking that creates an irrational belief, i.e. that they are ugly or disgusting. This belief is so strong for a person with BDD that the image they see (of their face for example) is distorted in the mirror.

BDD & Cosmetic Surgery

A large proportion of people with BDD may end up seeking cosmetic surgery or dermatological treatment, fuelling perceptions that BDD is in some way vain or narcissistic. People with BDD believe themselves to be ugly, disgusting or defective. Someone with a diagnosis of BDD would never be someone who enjoys long periods indulging themselves in front of the mirror. They can often believe their 'defects' are so obnoxious and real that they need to seek surgery. They believe what they see in the mirror is true and that others feel disgusted by them in the same way that they do. People may see imagined spots or acne, or a nose that is bulbous, unsymmetrical and disproportionate to their face . The anxiety can be too hard to bear and believing what they see in the mirror can make cosmetic surgery seem the only course of action(see our Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) pages).

It is a common misconception that the way someone with BDD perceives their physical features, is the cause of their anxiety and negative beliefs. On the contrary, it is the anxiety and negative beliefs someone holds about themselves, that provokes the person's obsession with their physical features. The way a person with BDD sees the way they look is distorted. It is therefore futile to try to convince someone with BDD that they do not need surgery because they are not ugly or 'defective'. It is therefore more useful to engage the person with BDD in a conversation about being unwell and that surgery could be irresponsible at this time, rather than discussing their symptoms i.e. the way they think they look.



Body Dysmorphic Disorder


This disorder, formerly referred to as dysmorphophobia, tends to occur in young adults equally in either gender. The patient becomes pre-occupied with a non-existent or minimal cosmetic defect (nose, cleft chin, blemish, breast size) and persistently seeks medical attention to fix it surgically.

The BDD Foundation (UK) - Aims to increase awareness and understanding of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), taking the focus away from current
stigmas that can perceive BDD as narcissistic, self-indulgent or purely a result of modern Western ideals. We also aim to dispel the belief of many people affected by BDD, that the disorder cannot be overcome.

Signs, Symptoms & Safety Behaviours

Although BDD is not exactly the same as OCD, there are similarities.
For instance, a person with BDD may feel that they have to repeat
certain acts. There are many ways to determine if you may have BDD, or if you are already dealing with it. Below are some examples:

Feeling hideous and disgusting
Frequently checking your appearance and spending long periods looking in the mirror at the specific body part and feeling trapped. This also includes using any reflective surfaces to check your image
Frequently comparing the appearance of the perceived defect with that of other peoples
Feeling anxious and self-conscious around other people because of the perceived defect
Avoiding social situations, bright lights, or people seeing you from certain angles in a room
Camouflaging the perceived defect with clothing, makeup, hats, hands, or posture
Excessive grooming (for example, combing hair, shaving, removing or cutting hair, applying makeup to conceal or detract attention)
Seeking surgery, dermatological treatment, or other medical treatments when professionals or those around you think that the 'flaws' are non-existent or minimal, or that the treatment sought is not necessary
Seeking reassurance about the flaw or attempting to convince others of its ugliness
Avoiding mirrors
Frequently touching the perceived defect
Frequently measuring the disliked body part
Picking one's skin
Excessively reading about the body part perceived as defective
Worrying endlessly that their skin is pale, their hair is too curly, or their nose is too long

GP Awareness

People who can possibly be at higher risk of BDD may exhibit symptoms of:

Alcohol or substance misuse
An eating disorder
Social phobia
With mild or non existent disfigurements/blemishes seeking cosmetic surgery or attending dermatology clinics

6 questions all GPs should be asking:

Do you worry a lot about the way you look and wish you could think about it less?
What specific concerns do you have about your appearance?
On a typical day, how many hours a day is it on your mind? (Consider over 1 hour excessive)
What effect does it have on your life?
Does it make it hard to do your work or be with your friends?
If you have BDD you should also be asked if you have thoughts about suicide



Medical Treatments for Children & Young People
(See also 'What steps should I take to get help?' CBT and Complementary Therapies and Foods)

The same treatment is used to treat young people with BDD as with adults.

If you are considered to be a child or young person by law you would usually expect to have a say in the treatment you feel is best for you. If you are over 16 you can give your own consent regarding your treatments. If you are under 16 and you fully understand all the information given to you, you may also be able to give your own consent. However parents or carers may also need to agree to your treatment plan especially where medication is concerned. Sometimes parents and healthcare professionals will think that you can benefit from a treatment that you don't particularly want and may go against your decision if they think this is best for you in the long term.




The medication advice below is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. Medical information is provided for information/reference purposes only. If you have specific needs please see a professional health care provider.
Every reasonable effort is taken to ensure accurate information; however, we cannot guarantee completeness or timeliness. Information is changed or updated at will. 
The BDD Foundation assumes no responsibility for outcomes resulting from the use of information contained on this website, or from information obtained from linked sites from this website. The BDD Foundation expressly disclaims (denies or renounces) all liability for injury or damages arising out of use, reference to, reliance on, or performance of such information.



It is recommended that you should only be offered medicines after you have seen a psychiatrist (a doctor who is an expert in mental health problems such as BDD). You should usually be having CBT while taking medicine.

Research has shown that the most effective medication used to treat BDD are Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Medications (SSRIs) These medications are also used to treat depression, and other anxiety conditions. SSRIs work by increasing activity in the brain and increasing the amount of certain chemicals that affect mood (such as Serotonin).



Other Related Disorders

Researchers believe that BDD is closely related to a variety of other disorders which include
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Compulsive Skin Picking, and Trichotillomania.

The common factor in all of these conditions is that they involve, to some degree, the presence of repetitive thoughts or behaviours. All of these disorders often go unrecognised and undiagnosed by GPs because the symptoms mimic other disorders such as
social phobia, agoraphobia, panic disorder and other secondary conditions from the Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) range, all of which can sometimes lead to depression.

There are also a number of other disorders which often affect people with BDD. These conditions can run alongside the BDD. These include Depression, Panic Attacks and Self-Harm.



We Need YOU!

The BDD Foundation is looking to expand and re-develop. In order to do this we need volunteers, we need your help! Would you be interested in joining an exciting, new Foundation that aims to spread the word about BDD? To help others and make a genuine difference in the lives of sufferers and carers of this awful illness?