Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Dysmorphophobia

People have normal concerns about their appearance, but when excessive time is consumed by their preoccupation with their appearance and social and occupational functioning is impaired, it is referred to as Body Dysmorphic Disorder or _Dysmorphophobia._ For those who are depressed or have an anxiety disorder, 5% to 40% suffer from this disorder as well.

These individuals experience their preoccupation with their _deformity_ as intensely painful. Work and social interaction are avoided. They will spend many hours of the day thinking about their _defect_ to the point that it dominates their lives.

Their days are characterized by obsessive checking of their perceived defect and weak attempts to block such thoughts.

Since a work related amputation is a sudden event for which an individual is not prepared, _Dysmorphophobia_ is often acute and time limited. It simply takes a few months to accept that the event has occurred and that the change in appearance is manageable.

I have found that it is more often seen in women when fingers are involved since hands and fingernails are so much a part of grooming and appearance. For men, the occurrence of _Dysmorphophobia_ appears to be associated with greater bodily loss and perception that their occupational (manual labor) path is forever changed and/or their masculinity is impugned by their new appearance.

The situation does occur with work-related amputation injuries and can be managed when recognized and differentiated from depression and anxiety associated with financial loss and pain/suffering.

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