Among the disorders related to the image of oneself and of one’s body, we often think of anorexia or bulimia but rarely of dysmorphophobia, a disease characterized by an inordinate preoccupation with an imaginary defect in physical appearance. Dysmorphophobia is difficult to identify because it can be easily confused with complexes and yet, it is five times more common than anorexia, according to the site Medical Xpress.
In one of the largest studies ever carried out on this subject, published by the journal Psychological medicine, Dr. Ben Buchanan of Monash University, Australia, discovered that a weak connection between the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center, and the orbitofrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, would characterize patients affected by this sickness.
“People with body dysmorphic disorder are convinced that part of their face or body is unbearably ugly,” says Dr. Buchanan, as quoted by Medical Xpress. “When the patient suffers from emotional distress related to his physical appearance, he finds it difficult to relax and take a step back because some parts of his brain do not communicate effectively.”
The specialist’s research suggests the type of treatment needed to reduce the symptoms of the disease: sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, capable of strengthening the connections between the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala. “As with the exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist to strengthen muscles, the therapy strengthens the brain pathways”, concludes the researcher.