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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Adalian MCH

Body Dysmorphia - the Crack in the Mirror

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

The word 'dysmorphia' - by its very definition - indicates a distortion of perception of body image based on the Greek translation of the term itself.

Image credit: Carmen Ward Villota

This phenomenon is often seen in practice as a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder - there is a certain fanaticism involved as the sufferer cannot be convinced otherwise that they are mistaken in this belief.

At this time in our history where social media can present a type of perfection in body image, the phenomenon of body dysmorphia seems to have grown exponentially. It is not only females who fall prey to this dis-ease, but increasingly males as well as they perceive themselves competing on the same very 'posey' stage. One may even question whether a new generation of narcissists is being bred through this influence. Also, sufferers range from pre-teen right through to the middle years. (Midlife crises can sometimes manifest in this way.)

Body dysmorphia can lead to anorexia where the distortion becomes increasingly marked. As the sufferer loses weight, their converse conviction of actual weight gain cannot be altered (1). This is in line with the pathology as dangerous amounts of weight loss go unobserved and the delusion remains ever more fixed firmly in place. The sycotic miasm is increasingly fuelled as it becomes entwined with the syphilitic one. In latter cases, there is more tendency to self-harm (and suicidal ideation which is seen in extremis).

May National Mental Health Awareness Week was between the 13th and 19th this year when, among other issues, body dysmorphia was discussed in the press (2). Mental health patients who are already receiving medication for a pre-existing condition and have resultantly put on weight may be pushed into body dysmorphia on top of the original presenting picture.

Wearing make-up or a false smile can mask the symptoms, so the practitioner treating such cases needs to be able to perceive behind the persona. The remedy - Thuja - is known to put on a mask and hide their true feelings - see rubric 'hides, true feelings' - where the remedy Aurum Met. also appears in italics, Carcinocin, Ignatia, Kali Carb., Lycopodium, and Staphysagria appear in plain type, and Nat. Mur. in black type.

Of course, society sets the bar quite high in both boys and girls. Judgement is often made based on their appeal or their beauty according to strong signals found in social media. Deirdre Kehoe of Young Minds (3), in the Guardian's Mental Health Supplement on 15.5.19 speaks of the need for 'digital resilience' - homeopathic treatment can help to put these boundaries in place and counter the sense of shame and resulting distress which has often been instilled into the sufferer.

There are many rubrics in the Mind section of the repertory to consider in such cases such as 'contemptuous, self, of'' and 'disgust, himself, with', - however, the main rubrics can be found under the 'Delusions' headings as this very fixated way of seeing oneself is distinctly found in this category. The one that fits the description most exactly is 'delusion, erroneous ideas, as to the state of his body' where the only remedy appearing is Sabadilla, in black type as well. Sabadilla is an extremely sycotic remedy and very closely aligned to Thuja with its need to maintain a perfect image despite feeling inadequate inside. Sabadilla also presents in a very evasive way in the clinical setting, like Thuja.

Sabadilla is additionally included in the rubrics 'delusion, deformed, some parts are' (Sabadilla is in black type alongside Aconite in plain type) and 'delusion, body is withering', where Sabadillia is the only remedy and appears in plain type. (4). Usually, we associate Sabadilla with acute illness such as hay fever - this rubric illustrates its strong mental picture in a very fixated state of mind. This is an illustration that there is no such thing as a 'small remedy'. I therefore recommend that if Thuja seems indicated but does not work or hold, Sabadilla may act more deeply to address this very entrenched symptom of distorted self-perception which is so pervasive in today's society.





(4) 'Touching Base with Trauma: Reaching Across the Generations - a Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective', (2017), by Elizabeth Adalian.

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