Brain scans show Ugly

About one or two out of a hundred people has a psychological problem called body dysmorphic disorder. They become preoccupied with what they perceive as physical defects in their face. This can lead to numerous plastic surgeries or even suicide. Most people never get diagnosed. They just think they are ugly.

Scientists at UCLA used brain scans to get a better understanding of how the minds of people with this disorder work. Details of their finding are in the Achives of General Psychiatry.

Researchers scanned the brains of people with body dysmorphic disorder as they looked at photos of their own face and then that of a familiar celebrity – along with altered versions of each. One version obscured the details and another version showed only the details.

It turns out the brain of someone with this disorder doesn’t some parts of their brains that the rest of us use whenever we are looking at the shape and size of faces. They see a distorted, twisted version and fail to grasp how the parts fit into the whole. They're not able to contextualize the information.

The problem for them is really not on the outside at all.

In the same way, people with twisted, distorted views of the world have an inside problem. They’ll never bring the world in focus by making outside changes. The change has to happen on the inside.

Step back and get the big picture. See the painting created by the tapestry of life’s details. By themselves, those details can appear quite ugly. But that’s not the whole picture.

Stephen Goforth