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Body Image Obsession Can Be Serious Brain Issue, UCLA Says

Body Image Obsession Can Be Serious Brain Issue, UCLA Says
Allen Skyy / Flickr

People who can't pass a mirror without checking themselves out and then obsess over any little blemish or out-of-place hair have a name: Angelenos!

No, really, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is what describes folks with extreme self-image problems. And UCLA researchers recently discovered that it's all in their head. Literally:

They conducted brain scans on 14 adults who have the disorder and discovered abnormalities called "clustering" as well as bad neural connections in areas of the brain involving visual input and emotion, according to the school.

UCLA associate professor of psychiatry Jamie Feusner and his team published the findings in the May issues of Neuropsychopharmacology.

According to a summary of the research:

Body Image Obsession Can Be Serious Brain Issue, UCLA Says
Ivan Marianelli / Flickr
People suffering from BDD tend to fixate on minute details, such as a single blemish on their face or body, rather than viewing themselves in their entirety. They become so distressed with their appearance that they often can't lead normal lives, are fearful of leaving their homes and occasionally even commit suicide.

UCLA says more people suffer from BDD disorder than from bipolar disorder. Feusner:

Their brains seem to be fine-tuned to be very sensitive to process minute details, but this pattern may not allow their brains to be well-synchronized across regions with different functions ... These abnormal brain networks could relate to how they perceive, feel and behave. This is significant because it could possibly lead to us being able to identify early on if someone is predisposed to developing this problem.

Of course, if scholars figure this out, it could kill the plastic surgery and beauty industries.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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