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Dysmorphic caregiving

Posted Jan 28 2011 9:01pm
I'd love this even if it wasn't written by my favorite science writer, Carrie:

More Than Meets the Mirror: Illusion Test Links Difficulty Sensing Internal Cues with Distorted Body-Image: Scientific American

Dysmorphia is when the brain gets its signals crossed between observation and perception. We need a name for when society observes an illness and mistakes it for something else. Like this: it seems so obvious that society loves thinness and so that is why some people 'take it too far' and become phobic about fat and see even very small bodies as too large. This is a mistake. People with dysmorphia - a common but not universal symptom with eating disorders - are not making a mistake. They see and feel what you don't believe is there.

Parents REALLY need to know this. We get stuck in this belief that the body image distress is a response to massive doses of messages from the outside. I believe the dose probably doesn't matter much - a drop is as potent as a truckload. Most of this is internal in those with mental illness. Do mentally well people ALSO experience body image distress, and some degree of dysmorphia: yes, of course. Do people with anorexia with dysmorphic symptoms (not all do) also have to deal with society's body issues: yes, of course. But confusing them is in my opinion a tragic mistake and a cruel disservice to those with mental illness - treatable mental illness. Effective treatment and loving caregiving require us to know what we're seeing.
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