“Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder”
by Eric Taipale
Discover, March 23, 2022
I hope you had a great weekend! The following pitch is for a proposed article entitled, “Is Body Dysmorphic Disorder a ‘Feminine Illness?’” which I suggest being published in the Mind section of Discover Magazine’s website. If this piece’s outlined summary and details do not align with your expertise, please forward this email to someone who may assist in publishing this work. Additionally, I would complete this assignment within two weeks of this pitch’s acceptance.
Whether our concerns are centred on the size of our nose or the placement of our eyebrows, from time to time, we may look in the mirror and notice the parts of our bodies that may generate feelings of self-consciousness, and although these insecurities may evoke minor discomfort, it does not interfere with our lives. But, for the 1 in 50 individuals afflicted with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental health problem that is connected to intense, distressing feelings about one’s body, they may spend between three and eight hours a day obsessing about their perceived flaws; some even undergoing multiple cosmetic procedures to subdue their stress. The disorder is very distressing, possibly impairing relationships with family and friends, and is commonly associated with suicidal ideation; a health concern present in approximately 80% of individuals with BDD, with around one-quarter attempting suicide.
Although some are quick to designate body dysmorphic disorder as a mental health problem that primarily affects female adolescents, researchers have suggested otherwise. In fact, The International OCD Foundation has suggested that 40% of people with BDD are males and their concerns were different from their female counterparts. A study published in BMC Psychiatry supported this claim after concluding that women feel dysphoric towards their personal perception of body fat, skin, and teeth. Men, however, seemed more concerned with appearing too thin, hair loss, and height. Despite this being a brief outline, I will review more studies that suggest similar, scientifically supported claims. Another facet of discussion will explore the role of cosmetic/beauty ads and bullying in the onset of BDD in both males and females.
Like my other articles, I aim to draw from first-hand accounts and leading scientific research of BDD to disseminate information surrounding the statistical and psychological differences between males and females who are diagnosed with the disorder along with how these differences may manifest in real-world clinical examples. The article will also cover both the therapeutic and pharmacological methods in treating BDD. In addition to covering the symptoms and complications, a section of this work will also take an in-depth approach to analyze its comorbidity with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating. Needless to say, this article—if published—would be of immeasurable importance to science-focused readers, capturing the attention of both professionals, scholars, and the recently diagnosed who are interested in learning about body dysmorphic disorder. It will also debunk the widespread claim that BDD is a “feminine illness;” potentially imploring more males to discuss their body image difficulties.
Moreover, the subject of body dysmorphia remains uncovered on Discover Magazine’s website, so the publication of the proposed work could also fill the large information gap present in the magazine. Since this subject covers a mental health disorder, I will also ensure that relevant content and information are included with sensitivity and mindfulness. For the sake of original reporting, I will be interviewing [over email] various experts who study body dysmorphic disorder, such as Monzani Benedetta of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London and the author of Challenging OCD in Young People With ASD. Additionally, I will also aim to gather statements from clinical psychiatrists Dr. Katharine Phillips, M.D. and Dr. David Veale FRCPsych, MD. Their insight—if provided—will be incorporated into the article.
I appreciate your consideration! If you have any questions or are interested in this project, please email me back at your earliest convenience!