Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Face Processing


  • Jacqueline Carhoun University Of Victoria
  • Madeleine Topfer


Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder where an individual becomes fixated on an exaggerated flaw in their image to the point that it interferes with their daily lives. Current research shows that BDD patients have deficits in visual processing of faces and bodies, such that they rely on local processing over global processing. For reference, local processing is defined as detail-oriented, whereas global processing is defined as holistic. The typical person processes faces as a whole by using global processing. This reliance on local processing may be influencing BDD patients to focus on minute flaws in their appearance, which prolongs their symptomatology. Furthermore, BDD patients are more likely to incorrectly perceive facial expressions as negative, further contributing to their emotional symptoms. Well-known treatments for BDD, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy, are effective treatments; however, they do not target the patient’s visual processing deficits. Targeting the visual processing deficits could help alleviate the symptoms of BDD, as well as decrease the chance of relapse. Future research should target the BDD patients’ distressing symptoms, as well as their visual processing deficits, to create a better treatment program.