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Dr. Katharine Phillips on Oprah – Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD)

Katharine A. Phillips, MD, will discuss body dismorphic disorder (BDD) tonight, November 8, on CNN with Paula Zahn.with Oprah Winfrey today.

Body dysmorphic disorder (or BDD) is a relatively common, often severe, and underrecognized body image disorder. It consists of distressing or impairing preoccupations with perceived flaws in one’s appearance. People with BDD are obsessed with the belief that something’s wrong with how they look. They may describe themselves as looking ugly, unattractive, “not right,” deformed — or even “hideous” or “monstrous.” This preoccupation frequently focuses on the face or head, often the skin (for example, acne, scarring, skin color), hair (for example, thinning or excessive body hair), or nose (for example, size or shape). However, people with BDD can dislike any part of their body. The appearance preoccupations are hard to control or stop, and people with BDD usually think about their perceived appearance flaws for hours a day. When other people say that they look fine, the person with BDD finds it hard to believe this reassurance.

BDD is an underrecognized and serious mental illness. It isn’t vanity. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of BDD and get the right treatment.

If you would like to know more about BDD follow this LINK

This page includes a link to a screening questionnaire for adults – LINK
and children – LINK.

Katharine Phillips, MD, is the author of The Broken Mirror:Understanding and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder and professor of Psychiatry at Butler Hospital and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island.

LINK to buy the book – 20% off!

Recent Comments

  1. Karen

    I am a student at Rutgers University and am working with several other students on a project that deals with body dysmorphic disorder. Do you have any idea how I can get videos on the disorder?

  2. tushar

    dear sir/mam
    i am 17 year old boy i live in india in delhi i started shaving around 5, 6 months back it was just a normal thing for me and i never cared about it but on august 16 06 i went to a saloon to get a shave after 3 ,4 days i started seeing that the portion of my face where i never shaved it was cover with hair.and soon i started recognising that the part of my face where i shave it started getting red and looked very ugly the part of neck where i shave it is gettin darker and look very ugly .i am not able to live a normal life i am not eating properly not sleeping . iam not able to concentrate on my syudies this is the very important year of my life as i have to get admission in college please tell me what should i do

    please help me

  3. Binu Sebastian

    Well, it was nice to see ur show about BDD. Well, i still remember the face of that lady who underwent 26 surgeries only at the of 28. It is still amazing that she is not recognizing the fatality of her disease. I wonder y do people like her fail understand those. If u ask me then i would tell u, she was one of the most beautiful girl of US, but now what i see is a scary face. A total scary-looking facing. She was bleeding when she was trying to clean her nostrils with that earbuds. I still wonder y is she insisting on having another surgery done to herself. I believe that those kind of surgeries can kill ur beauty rather than enhancing it. I strongly believe that her life span is totaly reduced because of those surgieries. Whom should i blame? her or her doctors? u can always post ur views about it to me. Mail me @ binusebastian.com@gmail.com

  4. Rachel Repking

    Does anyone have the tape of the Oprah Show episode-Too Ugly to Live. I am doing a project and would like to use some of that information in my presentation, but can only get the transcript from Oprah.com. If you have it could you send me an email at rrepking.com titled BDD, thanks!

  5. Jazell

    Hi my name is Jazell, and I am 19 years old. Growing up I never really felt pretty like all of the other little girls. In school and when it came to people I was always shy and careful about who I talked to. It wasn’t until my last year of junior high, when me and my best friend were tormented by a school bully named Matt. Everyday for the rest of the school year Matt and his friends would harrass me an my friend. Telling us how ugly we were, saying mean cruel comments, to the point everyday when I went home from school I cried. My friend and I finally escaped his crued comments when we went to high school. All through high school I was constantly going to the bathroom to look at my face, I started seeing freakles, blotchy red and white spots, and crocked teeth, it got to the point that I stopped looking in the mirror with the lights on, and for years that was how I did my makeup. I went to a few doctors, got on medication, but still I kept having spirts of anixiety, and hours of my obsession with the mirror increased. I finally started looking in the mirror with the lights on 2 years ago, but still everything was hidieous. For as long as I can remeber I have stressed and missed work, and friends, and I have become angry and depressed. I am so unhappy with myself that I become mean, and isolate myself from my family and all life. Every smile I give to people is hard for me, since at the end of my day I am completely enthralled in my hate for my looks. Please is there anyone who can help me? please email me at twid1@msn.com, thank you

  6. steve roher

    I have two children both with bdd my oldest age 26 committed suicide in Jan 15/07 my youngest is 24 and is currently in a psych ward, he constantly speaks of suicide.He has turned to cocaine. I will be sending him to a drug treatment facility. I don’t know if I should be treating BDD or his drug addiction.
    I need help

  7. Joe

    How do I find a doctor in my area that specializes in OCD or BDD ?

  8. Barbara

    My daughter has been suffering from OCD/BDD for 5 years. We have been to many therapists and there has not been much improvement. She is 16 years old and has no life. She misses school a lot. She never goes out. She has no social life. She speaks about dying. I need to find a specialist in my area who can help her. We live on Long Island in New York. She needs help desperately.

  9. Bonnie

    Barbara, as a 24 year old with severe BDD, I must tell you that the drug addiction is his way of dealing with the BDD. The BDD is the main problem. It’s VERY important that the focus is on treating that first (though he needs to be treated for both, of course) Call Dr. Katherine Phillips’ offices at Butler Hospital in Providence, RI to get a referal.

  10. Bonnie

    Sorry…that last one was meant for STeve!

  11. Sandra Taylor

    I am a mother of a 30 year old son with BDD, it is destoying his life and mine. I feel he is on a downward spiral to self destruction and I feel there is nothing I can do about it. Through the internet I found out about the book The Broken Mirror, by Dr. Katharine Phillips, it has been another straw to grasp atin the hope that i can get help for my son before anything happens to him, and maybe just maybe he can begin to live and not just dwell in the hopelessness, despair and daily hell that he now resides in. He needs HELP now.
    Melbourne, Australia

  12. jenna hailwood

    I have been suffering from BDD for 4 years now is there any professional that can deal with this problem in Atlanta or columbus Georgia where I am a student? I need help

  13. cherry

    is ther a charity for help ing these people i have daughter with BDD if there isnt id like to try and start one as with20yrs of growth work i feel i may be able to help otheres if not my own(seems being mum isnt ok im often blamed ! no body else in family wants to know!!!!!!!!!! not uncommon im sure

  14. Marin

    The oprah show on BDD was a real good one…
    It would really be a great eye opener for all those women out there who feel that they arent worthy of who they actually are….especially for the INDIAN women who everyday spent half their money and time on all those fairness products hoping they would just be able to change what they look like….and many who actually get obsessed on it and ruin their lives…

    Marin Das
    final year med. student
    GOD created man with his own hands…How can his creation ever be ugly…Its in each one of US TO BELIEVE OURSELVES AND REALISE HOW BEAUTIFUL WE ARE…..
    WE R DEFINITELY WORTHY…..

  15. wexler

    i am in my late 40s.
    at age 19 I developed ocd. i had terrible thoughts and fears that I would harm people I cared about. I was in therapy for 15 years.
    three things helped me
    therapy
    bike riding
    use of opiates
    today I am living a good life!

  16. stacymcclellan

    I am the mother of a 15 year old daughter with BDD. In April, 2007 she tried to end her life. Our dauhter suffers from depression, alcohol, and drugs. She has even cut herself. She sees a therapist and psycoligist regularly. She is in the hopital now. She is going to be released any day. I have been adivised to place her in a inpatient rehab for drugs and alcohol. My daughter drinks and uses drugs so she does not have to face the BDD. I want to find a hospital that treats BDD. We live near Houston, Texas. Please contact me if you know of a treatment center. Thank you, Stacy

  17. Ersi

    I would like to say my view on how I help myself with this disorder..
    I believe I have had this since puberty, possible even earlier. Now I am 31 yrs. old (female).
    I thought at first that it was jealousy of my sister being prettier than I am and everyone looking at her, that the problem was that I was just too short or that I had such a big nose etc. I also thought that it was because of excessive antagonism and need for achieving praise from others at all times (due to lack of self-esteem).
    I believe that it is the way that we grow up. They make us believe that nothing else that we do matters as much in our lives as the way we look.
    So, to point out a few points of focus:

    1) Believe that it is ok if others understand how you feel. You don’t have to tell them, but neither try hard to conceal it. Be natural about it or even joke about it. After all, other people have their own problems and is not their right to judge others about their problem.

  18. grim

    I’ve read part of Dr. Katharine Phillips book and I find it frustrating, for most of it deals with people whose body issues don’t really exist…i.e anorexia, bilemia, and people who actually don’t have what they think they have.

    So how do you treat somebody with legitimate problems? i.e.ugliness, deformed face, big ears, big nose….and anything that is legitimately unatttractive.

    Why are these two types of people put in the same category???

  19. George Pratsinak

    I am assisting a priest with one of his parishioners who has BDD. They have been on Zoloft with PRN Respiridone and having monthly sessions with a psychiatrist but everyone says he is getting worse. He recently stated he hatred seeing this psychiatrists, threatened suicide and left the home, only to return feeling much better-like he took control of his life. He still needs help and resides in the Philadelphia area. I need a good referral to someone familiar with this disorder.

    PLease Help.

    Dr. P.

  20. shelley

    Please, when you are still young, GET HELP. Im 52 yrs old & am realizing this is the root of my dpression bsides very low selfesteem.Ive been made fun of my whole childhood & thought Id grow out of it.But it has affected every area of my life I still have a very hard time holding a job & when i do, my confidence in my abilities just goes downhill.I am still very shy this embarrasses me. im ruining my marriage i never want to be around people. im either numb or crying.ive been in counseling & feel totally hopeless. good luck to you, though.

  21. s hicks

    bdd is ruining who i am on a dailey basis i obsess in the mirror how horrible i look,iv felt like this since school i am now 32 i realy do believe im ugly iv been told so on many occasions iv kept this secret for many years but its eating me up to the point i dont want to go out i feel sad n lonenly and sad to think all i think of is how i look i try to think of people less fortunate than me;ie an accident n not to b petty as theres more to life sometimes il get dressed up n think hey u look ok then catcth a glimpse or pic n think who am i kiding im too embarssed to go docs cos they l think im looney but seiously i dont kno what to do im stuck

  22. Soho

    I agree with the previous poster, Grim. What if you have a truly LEGITIMATE “defect” that others, random strangers perhaps, have ridiculed you for? What if you are, in simple terms, truly ugly?

    What irks me is that Dr. Phillip’s book almost belittles the disease in a way. For example, showing a girl with a TINY nose (anybody would say it is tiny) who obsesses that her nose may be too big. Why can’t you show a person who ACTUALLY HAS a big nose as an example? Many people have large noses, hooked noses, bumpy noses… they have a LEGITIMATE right to feel self-conscious about that feature. Perhaps a rude stranger pointed it out to them.

    What do people think when they see a person with a TINY nose acting scared that their nose is too big. They think it’s a JOKE. They think the problem is purely psychological. It BELITTLES it!

    Why don’t you show overweight people who are legitimately self-conscious about their weight, because others have insulted them for it? Or show some ugly people who have severe BDD, because they’ve never been asked out on a date?

    The problem is at least 50% PHYSIOLOGICAL in most cases, not purely psychological. I’m sick of this, because it’s really belittling the disease.

    (If you agree, or even just wanna talk with me about your personal BDD experiences, feel free to e-mail c.soho@ymail.com.)

  23. Kirsten

    In response to SoHo- I worked for a plastic surgeon for years and the people i have encountered with BDD weren’t “truly ugly”.
    The disease is related to low serotonine (depression) and OCD.

    Sometimes they might have a legitimate case. For example they were usually men. They would think that there chin receded to much. Aesthetically speaking they may have been right but their thoughts about it were out of proportion. They would think they were hideous and wouldn’t leave the house.

    The disease strikes who it strikes. It is usually not someone who’s truly disfugured. That is the problem.

  24. Penny Loving

    I have a daughter who is 37 and desperately needs help. She has gone to several therapists and none of them really deal with BDD. She lives in Nashville, Tn. and now wants to go to a clinic for help. Is there one where she could live or are they all outpatient? She is getting worse by the day and we just don’t know what to do. Does anyone know a doctor in Nashville that deals with this? Thanks for the help.

  25. Lisa Michel

    I am 39 and have suffered from Bdd since I was 19. I have been in and out of hospitals suffering from breakdowns. I self medicate to stop the suicidal feelings. It’s like no doctor in Canada knows anything about this disorder. I would love to talk to someone who is suffering from this horrible illness. Maybe we can comfort and help eachother since no doctor can help.

  26. McKayla

    Lisa,
    my name is McKayla. I suffered from BDD from age 13 to age 18. I don’t know what happened or how it was possible. I am cured. I am trying to back track to see what saved me from this because I never thought it would go away. Doctors didn’t know of any cases where it went away and I was so scared that I would never be able to go to school like a normal child or have a job or leave the house. I just wanted to stop existing and for the monster in the mirror to go away. My nose moved on my face my head looked disproportioned and I would get upset when people told me I was just seeing things and that it wasn’t true, because I knew more than I had ever known anything that they were just lying to me. I spent most of my life in front of mirrors. I wanted plastic surgery so bad I would cry and plead and beg. I remember standing in front of the mirror ready to do it myself. My mom never gave up on me. She brought me to a psycologist named Juliana who was able to help me. I was hospitalized for a while previous and that didn’t help because they didn’t know anything. However out of that came a psychiatrist who put me on fluvoxamine. It works. It takes a while so don’t give up on it. I almost did. I don’t know if you want to talk but if you ever do let me know. I will help the best that I can. Cases of BDD seem to differ in some ways among those that suffer from it. There are a lot of similarities though. I still am never completely happy with my pictures, and I am self consious and anxious at times but I can live my life now. I no longer have to take medication. I also take Shaklee products so that could have helped. I am 21 now and able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. I want to help if I can.

  27. lisa s.

    hi, this is for grim and soho. i am very upset about your statements on how you feel towards Dr. Kathleen Phillips book. i am 28 yrs old and have suffered bdd since 16. you must know that it is psychological and it must be a chemical imbalance or perhaps life experiences that added to this imbalance. you think it’s funny or belittling and it is not. the fact is there is no serious way about explaining this disorder and whether a person has a facial defect or not it doesn’t change the symptons of the disorder. i think that your statement is cruel to those that don’t like their looks and who might have a slightly large nose or big forhead. are you saying that everyone has BDD. you clearly don’t know about this disorder and how it effects people. i know you were trying to defend it, but what you did was just encourage those who are not diagnosed with it to believe maybe they have it because they don’t like their big nose. next time watch how you say things.

  28. jodie f.

    how can I find Doctors in the NYC area who specialize in BDD?
    there aren’t many other than hospitals in RI and out west.
    health care coverage does not cover out of state (NY) pls adv. thanks, jodie

  29. nicolas z.

    hello i am not speak english very well.i am 20,and have suffered from Bdd since I was 14.plis, i need help !!!!.i am from
    argentina.

  30. Renee S

    It’s estimated that 2% of the population have BDD, but most are too ashamed to admit it. Cognitive behavioral therapy and SSRI’s are shown to be effective. UCLA had a BDD therapy group if you live in Los Angeles, California. I hope to someday write a treatment manual for BDD. Don’t give up hope and don’t ignore BDD because it usually won’t go away on its own.

  31. A. Staten

    My son has been diagnosed with BDD. He is now 21 and has been suffering from severe depression and anxiety for several years now. He had told me a number of times before his diagnosis that he would commit suicide. I took his words lightly then but after I head that he is suffering from BDD my first reaction was shock and then despair. I don’t know what to do with him. I need help here!

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