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Body dysmorphia Objectification not the same as narcissism

Permanent Linkby margharris on Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:42 pm

My son has obviously objectified himself through this illness. He is an object to gaze on and find fault with but it is not to get attention. Objectifying didnt have its origins in his need to find value because of some lack of affirmation. He was loved unconditionally and does know it. So how does he now have a fragmented sense of self? How does he see himself as both object and subject in his own body?
Today, I think we all suffer from some degree of objectification. We need to access whether we are out-the-door ready. Hair, clothing just right. Make up for woman and even high heels for some a mandatory accessories for that plum job. And men no longer are exempt. Designer underpants get to the target market as though the guy without the abs will be OK if he gets the jocks right. How many sexist ads and TV shows have men parading topless, hairless and bronzed? So society has a hand in making us all self conscious. However, I dont think this accounts for how BDD is born?

I think we are dealing with a very distinctive substrate in my son's case and probably in most cases too. It is that OCD brain. My son, from infancy, drew emotional comfort from his body sensations. He could comfort himself by holding the edge of a satin blanket. He would stroke the cool silk material. Later his visual sense developed. He saw pattern and lines and responded to them emotionally. A stepping on the cracks game, turned sinister when he felt compelled to get it right and return to the start if he got it wrong. He responded to the look of a mistake on the page. Maths became something best avoided. Once teens hit, the responsibility of hair hit hard. Products lined the bathroom cabinet and getting the look right, the responsibility, that morphed into the BDD of today. He became emotionally invested in the look. He objectified himself and has never stopped. The fear of getting it wrong felt as shame and unworthiness.
So when you give over your living body to the thought that it is merely an object, you stop the flow of that life. Your swimming and suddenly you think your hair looks wet and awful, you will stop swimming. So that is what happens in an obsession. Your mind creates more and more thoughts that objectify your essence. Your living body loses its energy and focus. It has no direction when it has been deprived of its energy. All energy is locked up in thought. The body then must be only felt as a big lump of useless. A heavy, clumsy, ugly, ashamed glug. It is going no where other than bed.
So in the peak of an exacerbation of OCD or BDD, you are likely to be this lifeless blop barely moving from the bed. You are no longer fully invested in your subjective experience of life....your living doing active body but are now living like a corpse, the object. You have become almost totally objectified. Your thoughts never moving much beyond the assessing of how to achieve the perfect fix. Being good enough to look upon will give you a life back worthy of living. That is how the story goes. We are living in this phase of almost complete objectification at the moment.
So in recovery from BDD,we need to understand the need to give up compulsions, tame the intrusive thoughts and reclaim a life by valuing ourselves as doers rather than lookers.
It might be nice to imagine ourselves as David Beckham. But he has pressure on him and what does he really stand for. We don't really know him as a man. What does he tell us about living well? Maybe the Dalai Lama or The Pope have that inside heart that when we think on them, opens up for us to release the pain we have trapped inside.
I hope we find the way out. Best wishes to you all. Marg

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